The wording of the proposal that was voted on,
The initiative proposes to insert the following article in the federal constitution:
1. The government will provide a basic income.
2. The basic income will allow the people to live in a dignified manner and participate in public life.
3. Legislation will determine the funding for the system and the actual amount of the basic income.
The Swiss use the term Unconditional rather than Universal, which reflects the fact that not everyone gets the full payment regardless of income. As with other UBI models, the payment is determined by existing income, and is designed to prevent and alleviate poverty.
Anyone who does not have a paid job would receive the unconditional basic income, and all paid work up to that amount would be replaced by this payment. To fund it, all earned income would be taxed to a maximum amount equal to the amount of the basic income.
In practical terms, assuming a monthly basic income of CHF2,500, a person who has an income of CHF1,500 would receive another CHF1,000. Someone with CHF2,500 would not receive more. Someone earning CHF6,500 would be taxed on a net income of CHF4,000.
The same mechanism would be applied in the case of benefit payments from social welfare. Payments up to CHF2,500 would be replaced by the basic income, while anything over this amount would continue to be paid as a separate social welfare payment.
These arrangements would cover 88% of the funding requirements for a basic income. For the remaining 12%, other sources of funding would have to be found.
The Swiss go through a rigorous pre-referendum political process that includes the Swiss parliament voting to accept, reject or counter-propose. In that time the left wing parties rejected the proposal,
This was not enough however to convince the Greens and other Socialists. “The Greens support the objectives of the Popular Initiative for an Unconditional Basic Income, but as it stands, it endangers our social system,” said Christian van Singer, spokesperson for the Greens. He argued that while one goal of the initiative is to simplify the social system, “it could level down the benefit system to the detriment of those who do not find work or cannot work.”
Similarly, the Socialist MP Jean-Christophe Schwaab said he opposed basic income because it could be a pretext to dismantle the welfare system and reduce wages.
Participation rate in the vote was 46.3% which is the mid range of turnout in Swiss referenda.
Only 2% of Swiss would stop working if the government paid them a basic income of CHF2,500 per month; a further 8% would consider quitting work depending on the circumstances. That’s according to an opinion poll carried out on behalf of the promoters of the initiative, using a sample of 1,076 people.
Source: Swiss News Agency