Referendum & Results September 25 2022

This Sunday Swiss citizens voted on the following referendums:

On a national level:

Massentierhaltungsinitiative – Livestock Initiative – NO by 62.9% of votes

The initiative wants to ban factory farming and include the dignity of animals in the constitution. To this end, animal husbandry requirements should apply that at least correspond to the Bio-Suisse guidelines of 2018. The initiative demands an animal-friendly environment and bedding for farm animals. All animals should also have access to pasture. Animals should be slaughtered – after a short transport route – in a gentle manner. In addition, there are regulations for the import of animals and animal products in order to make it more equitable between meat produced locally and abroad. A transitional period of 25 years applies.

The Federal Council refers to the already existing strict legislation on animal welfare compared to other countries. If food with animal products had to meet the organic standard, this would lead to higher prices and less choice. Import requirements would also violate international trade agreements. Higher costs would also be incurred by agriculture.

The Federal Council asks people to vote against this initiative.

Supplementary financing of the AHV – YES by 55.1%

The increase in value-added tax for the benefit of the AHV must be decided by the electorate, because it is a constitutional amendment. Part of the additional revenue will be used to finance the compensatory measures for the female pensioners affected by the age increase.

In the case of value-added tax, the reduced tax rate is to be increased from 2.5 to 2.6 per cent, while the standard rate will rise from 7.7 to 8.1 per cent. This increase is a constitutional amendment that must be put to the vote. According to the federal government’s calculations, the increase in VAT will provide the AHV with additional revenue of around CHF 12.4 billion by 2032. Together with savings of around CHF 4.9 billion, this will relieve the AHV finances by around CHF 17.3 billion.

Those against argue that the AHV has currently no debt and there are other ways of filling the coffers.

The AHV 21 proposal with retirement age 65 for women – YES by 50.6%

A uniform retirement age of 65 years now applies to women and men. In return, the retirement age for women will be gradually increased from 64 to 65. This increase will be cushioned for those affected by compensatory measures. Women born between 1961 and 1969 can take early retirement under better conditions or receive a supplement to their AHV pensions if they work until 65.

The bill also introduces flexible retirement between the ages of 63 and 70. In addition, more incentives are to be created so that people over 65 also work for pay.

Those arguing against this motion say that, in general, women receive a third less pension than men, so this should first be rectified before they are asked to work longer.

The federal council and the parliament voted in favour of these two motions and have asked that the people do the same.

Partial abolition of the withholding tax – NO by 52%

Voters will also decide on the amendment of the Federal Witholding Tax Act. In December, parliament decided to partially abolish the anticipatory tax on domestic interest income and to abolish the turnover tax on Swiss bonds. A cross-party committee of the SP, the Greens and the Federation of Trade Unions has launched a referendum against this.

Bonds issued in Switzerland are to become more attractive. Currently, the federal government levies a withholding tax of 35 per cent on income from interest. Individuals living in Switzerland can claim this back if they declare the interest in their tax return. Withholding tax is only due on interest from bonds if the bonds were issued in Switzerland. Many companies therefore issue their bonds in countries where no withholding tax is levied.

The proposal is intended to reduce the administrative burden for investors so that Swiss companies will increasingly issue their bonds in Switzerland.

The council and parliament voted in favour and are asking the people to do the same.

On a local level voters are being asked to:

Money for Swiss Guard Renovation – NO by 71.5% of voters

Agree to giving CHF 400 000.- towards the renovation of the Swiss guard lodgings at the Vatican. The whole project costs 45 million francs and a Swiss foundation already collected 43 million frqancs towards the work. The canton of Lucerne has historically a close relation to the Swiss guard, which is why the town agreed to a donation of CHF 400 000.- (1 franc per person living in the canton). However several parties feel that the money would be better spent on more local projects and that the Vatican should be sponsoring this project. The local parliamant and town council voted in favour and are asking the people to do the same.

Approve the town’s climate strategy and/or it’s counterproposal YES by 60% for the town’s more radical proposal.

The ambition of this project is big, to make the city CO2 neutral within 20 years. Meaning that fossil fuels will be banned within that time frame amongst other motions such as cutting the available parking spots by 50% downtown.

A counterproposal is being put forward which calls for less draconian measures.

Confusingly voters can vote in favour or against one or both measures and then state which one of the two they would prefer should they both be approved….

Voters are also asked to approve the town spending 63 million franc on the renovation of the school in the neighbourhood of Littau.

We will share the results of the votes with you Sunday evening.

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