Swiss Basic Income Dies A Gruesome Death At The Ballot Box

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Blake Neff Reporter
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An ambitious proposal to guarantee every citizen a minimum income of over $30,000 per year has been overwhelmingly defeated in a Swiss referendum.

Results from Sunday’s vote found only 23 percent of Swiss voters supported the proposal, while an overwhelming 77 percent opposed it.

[dcquiz] Switzerland’s robust system of direct democracy allows for almost any kind of law to be passed if enough signatures are gathered and the law is then approved in a voter referendum. Such referendums are held multiple times per year; recent laws passed in this manner include a ban on minarets, restrictions on immigration and asylum seekers, and regulations governing executive pay.

The measure voted on Sunday would have implemented the first national guaranteed minimum income in the world. While the exact amount was not stated in proposal, backers had suggested every Swiss adult citizen (and foreigners resident of at least five years) should have received a guaranteed minimum income of 2,500 Swiss francs (about $2,555) per month, regardless of whether they were working, unemployed, or had dropped out of the workforce entirely. The high amount of the proposed income partly reflects the very high cost of living in Switzerland.

Backers of the plan argued it would protect less skilled workers being squeezed by outsourcing and automation, while also providing greater freedom for raising families or following creative pursuits. Critics argued it would greatly reduce the incentive to work and would be ruinously expensive. The proposal was officially opposed by the country’s government and by most of its political parties.

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