World Economy

Swiss Politicians Vote Against Greater Wage Transparency

Swiss Politicians Vote Against Greater Wage TransparencySwiss Politicians Vote Against Greater Wage Transparency

In a close-run vote, Swiss politicians late Monday voted against a motion that would have seen them declaring whether they earn an income from their non-political positions.

Many Swiss politicians have second jobs or positions on company boards that they combine with their political duties. These politicians bring key industry experience and knowledge with them to Bern, The Local reported.

Until now, however, Swiss parliamentarians have not had to declare who they work for, or whether those positions are paid. But on Monday there was a slight shift towards transparency with politicians in the upper and lower house agreeing that they would now publicly declare details of their employers.

This move came in the wake of a proposal from Marianne Streiff-Feller with the Evangelical People’s Party of Switzerland who had argued voters had the right to know on whose payroll their representatives were.

While this information may be public or an open secret in some cases, it is not something that has had to be officially declared until now. But at the same time politicians on Monday also voted against proposed changes that would have seen them declaring whether their second jobs or company board positions were paid or unpaid.

Any positions with a payment of less than 12,000 francs a year were to be considered honorary.

The vote was very tight with 93 MPs voting against the proposal and 92 for. But regional Swiss daily the Aargauer Zeitung noted that 12 politicians in the lower house had failed to turn up on time for the vote including three Socialist Party MPs who backed the vote.

Opposing the initiative, Gregor Rutz of the conservative Swiss People’s Party said forcing parliamentarians to declare how much they earned outside of the parliament would lead to a situation where Switzerland only had career politicians.

The Swiss Earnings Structure Survey 2016 shows the median income for the top 10% of earners (11,406 francs or $11,472 a month before tax) rose 6.3% from 2008 to 2016 while the equivalent rise for the bottom 10% of earners was 9.9%.

For middle-class earners, defined as people earning from 70–150% of the median salary, this rise was 6.9% from 2008 to 2016.

Wage inequality remained stable from 2008 to 2016: the median salary of the top 10% of earners was 2.7 times higher than that of the bottom 10% in 2008. In 2016, this gap had closed very slightly to 2.6 times.

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