A popular initiative has been launched in Switzerland to vote on partially nationalising the UBS Group. For a popular initiative to reach the voting stage 100,000 signatures need to be collected within 18 months.
The banks initiative aims to change the Swiss constitution to require large banks and insurance companies of systemic importance to be managed as joint stock companies with the federal government as majority shareholder, a set up described as a mixed-economy stock corporation. UBS Group would fall into this category.
Switzerland has long been home to a banking sector with assets far larger than its economy. UBS’s assets are currently around twice Switzerland’s GDP. This brings domestic economic risks, given the onus on governments to bail out banks based on home soil.
According to Bernhard Schmidt, the 58-year-old director of a private school in the canton of Zurich who’s leading the initiative, UBS is a cluster risk. In the next crisis, the whole country could go under, he told the Sonntagszeitung.
Before the question can be put to the people, the organisers must collect 100,000 signatures. The proposal must then go through the political negotiation process, which can result in a counter proposal. Then it must be added to the queue of other votes. The whole process can take several years. In addition, if voters accept it the wording grants two years to put the plan into action.
Initiative website (in German)