Today, Swiss voted on a reform of the Swiss pension system, which included a plan to raise VAT, and a government counterproposal on a Swiss Farmers’ Union initiative calling for increased subsidies and trade protection for Swiss farmers, dubbed the food security initiative.
The food security vote was accepted by 78.7% of voters, while the pension reform vote was rejected by 52.7% of voters. The related vote to raise VAT, part of the plan to improve pension funding, was rejected by a razor thin majority – there were only around 2,000 votes in it. The VAT and pension reform votes came as a package. If one failed then both did.
A majority of voters in all cantons voted in favour of the food security initiative.
At a cantonal level, the pension reform initiative delivered a mixed result. The often seen linguistic divide was not seen this time. Geneva and Vaud were against it, while Neuchâtel and Jura were for it. In German-speaking Switzerland, Zurich, Bern and Basel-City were for it and Luzern, St. Gallen and Zug were against it.
Regarding the vote on pension reform, the Swiss People’s party (UDC/SVP) said the people have spoken out once again against a damaging system that throws money around. It described the monthly increase of CHF 70 francs for future pensioners as particularly controversial, while describing some of the plan’s changes to professional, or second pillar pensions, as “expropriation”. It said it was committed to the undisputed parts of the plan, such as increasing the retirement age for women to 65 and the increase in VAT to bolster funding.
The Socialist Party said that a “no” is in no way a carte blanche to dismantle the social system. The Swiss People’s Party and the PLR/FDP know that they don’t command a majority on the issue. Only a constructive plan which safeguards professional pensions and strengthens the basic state pension will have a chance of succeeding. The plan put forward by these parties, which reduces professional pension annuity rates and increases the retirement age without any compensation, will by fought front on by the Socialist Party.
The next round of referenda typically happen in November, however, this November there are no votes at a federal level.