On 25 September 2022, Swiss voters voted on four federal initiatives on whether to reform the state pension system, remove some withholding taxes and stamp duty and whether to restrict factory farming.
Voting this weekend saw two initiatives accepted and two rejected. Majorities were in favour of the government’s pension reform plan (50.57%) and raising VAT to improve pension finances (55.07%). However, tighter restrictions on factory farming (62.86%) and changes to withholding tax and stamp duty (52.01%) were rejected by voters.
The votes showed notable differences between French- and German-speaking voters, a linguistic divide known as the Rösti Graben (rösti is a grated potato dish associated with Switzerland’s German speakers and Graben means ditch or trench). A majority of German speakers were in favour of the government’s plan to reform pensions, while a majority of French speakers were against it. The difference can be seen visually on a map put together by RTS. Similar differences were visible on the plan to cut withholding tax and stamp duty, with German speakers in and around Basel and Italian speakers joining French-speakers in opposition – see map here.
The initiative to restrict factory farming was rejected by every canton except Basel-City. At a municipal level it found majorities in Central Geneva, Lausanne, Bern, Luzern, Zurich, Winterthur and a number of other urban municipalities.
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