Referendum on pension reform: Swiss women have to work longer

In the third attempt, a majority in Switzerland appears to be in favor of a pension reform.

Referendum on pension reform: Swiss women have to work longer

In the third attempt, a majority in Switzerland appears to be in favor of a pension reform. Accordingly, the retirement age for women will be adjusted to that of men. In addition, the VAT rate will increase to make the system more financially stable.

In Switzerland, a wafer-thin majority voted in favor of the controversial pension reform in the referendum. According to the official result, 50.6 percent of the voters voted for raising the retirement age for women from 64 to 65 and thus bringing it in line with that of men. It would be the first pension reform in more than 25 years. However, voters rejected stricter animal protection measures.

Raising the retirement age has been the most controversial part of pension reform. In addition, the electorate could decide in a separate ballot whether the VAT should be increased in order to increase the revenues of the pension system. According to the projections, approval was somewhat higher at 55 percent. It is now rising from 7.7 to 8.1 percent. The reform aims to secure pensions in the face of an aging population. The reform can only come if there is a majority for both bills.

If the projections come true, that would be a success for Bern. In 2004 and 2017, the Swiss governments at the time tried to introduce a similar pension reform, but failed at the ballot box. Voter turnout was now over 52 percent.

Parliament had already approved the most important pension reform measures last year. Supporters of the reform stressed that, given the economic and demographic situation, it was not unreasonable to ask women to work longer hours. Left-wing parties and trade unions, on the other hand, criticized the plans as reform "on the backs of women" and forced a referendum. The project also met with resistance from women. Opponents argued that there is a significant wage gap between women and men in Switzerland, which means that women receive far lower pensions than men. It is unfair to raise the retirement age without addressing these issues first.

Samuel Bendahan from the Social Democratic Party (SP) told the public broadcaster RTS that the projections are painful for the left-wing parties and the unions, but above all for those affected.

Meanwhile, according to the projections, the majority of voters rejected a ban on factory farming with 63 percent. The animal protection organizations behind the initiative also wanted to enshrine the dignity of farm animals in the constitution and set stricter minimum requirements for animal husbandry.

The government and parliament had rejected the initiative with the reference that Switzerland already has one of the strictest animal protection laws in the world. They warned that stricter regulations would also significantly increase prices.

Supporters of the initiative said they would have been happy if the bill got a majority. But they are glad that the campaign has raised awareness of the issue. All of Switzerland discussed the problems associated with factory farming and meat consumption.

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