Five-question referendum held in Switzerland



5 Jun. — A referendum on the unconditional basic income was held in Switzerland. Despite considerable international attention, residents of the country rejected the idea. Meanwhile, the fact that there were four other questions on the referendum went by completely unnoticed.

The collection of signatures under the initiative to change the constitution and require the government to pay each citizen of the country an unconditional basic income of approximately $2,500 a month, regardless of their level of wealth, began in 2012. Nearly 126.500 people supported the independent group in taking the question to a referendum.

After that, the country’s government and parliament both gave negative assessments on the proposal. The former pointed out that if passed, the initiative would have serious consequences for the economy and social expenditures since the payments would make up 35% of the country’s GDP.

The only political party to support the idea on the eve of the referendum was the Green Party. Communists from the Swiss Party of Labour allowed their members to vote according to individual conscience while the rest of the large parties opposed it.

According to preliminary data, only 23.1%, or close to 569 thousand people, supported the initiative. Moreover, it could not attain even 40% in a single one of the 26 cantons. The highest results were 36% in Basel-Stadt.

At the same time, there were four more questions on the referendum. First, there was an initiative to require state-owned enterprises to not pursue profits and limit top-managers’ salaries to a level equal to or less than the salaries of federal government officials. Communists from the Party of Labour were the only ones to support this initiative. In the end it received the support of merely 32.4% of the population.

Second, there was an initiative for making all collections on mineral oil tax in Switzerland go towards transport infrastructure. The idea was supported by the Swiss People’s Party and nationalists from the Ticino League. Resultingly, only 29.2% of the Swiss approved it.

Third was an initiative regarding pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (testing embryos) that proposed allowing this during artificial insemination. The majority of the parties either supported the idea or refrained from taking a clear position. So it is unsurprising that it received the support of the population – 62.4%. Switzerland has now become the last country in Europe to legalise the procedure.

Fourth, the government and parliament were in favour of changing the law on asylum claims in order to speed up the application review procedure. In conditions of support coming from the overwhelming majority of the parties, the population also voted for the amendments: 66.8%.

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