Swiss vote decisively for ‘13th month’ pension increase

Provisional official results published by the government showed over 58 percent of voters backed the extra pension

By REUTERS
March 04, 2024
Switzerland's flag seen hoisted at an undisclosed location. — AFP/File

ZURICH: Switzerland voted decisively to increase pension payments for the elderly in a referendum on Sunday, as concern over living costs and support for a stronger social safety net trumped questions about how to afford it.

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Provisional official results published by the government showed over 58 percent of voters backed the extra pension, a 13th monthly payment per year, with less than 42 percent against, a more emphatic victory than final polls had suggested.

The measure, which was promoted by the Swiss Trade Union Federation and left-of-centre parties, also needed the backing of a majority of Switzerland’s 26 cantons to pass. Most supported it, with opposition strongest in lower-tax cantons.

“This step is really a huge milestone from a union perspective,” Lukas Golder of polling firm gfs.bern told SRF.

The government, business lobbies and parliament, which currently leans to the right, had rejected the proposal as financially unsound. Swiss voters have in the past been cautious about backing measures viewed as risky for business.

The pension vote contrasts with referenda in recent decades in which Switzerland clearly rejected proposals that would have shortened the working week and given people more holidays.

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