Swiss voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal that would have guaranteed everyone in the Alpine nation an unconditional basic income, according to projections published Sunday by public broadcaster SRF1. The idea has also been floated in Canada.
The Associated Press Posted: Jun 05, 2016
According to projections from a polling group, 78% of voters opposed the measure
Swiss voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal that would have guaranteed everyone in the Alpine nation an unconditional basic income, according to projections published Sunday by public broadcaster SRF1.
The plan could have seen people in this wealthy nation of eight million people receive about 2,500 Swiss francs ($3,315 Cdn) per month — enough to cover their basic needs.
Proponents argued that a basic income would free people from meaningless toil and allow them to pursue more productive or creative goals in life. Critics said the plan would explode the state budget and encourage idleness, arguments that appear to have convinced voters.
Based on a partial count of results from 19 Swiss cantons (states), the gfs.bern polling group calculated that 78 per cent of voters opposed the measure.
The Swiss government itself advised voters to reject the proposal put forward by left-wing campaigners who collected the necessary 100,000 signatures to force a vote on the issue.
But the idea of basic income — also known as guaranteed minimum income, universal income or a negative income tax — has won over some economists, who say it could replace traditional welfare payments and give everybody the same chances in life.
Concept floated in Canada
The basic income debate recently made its way to Canada, with politicians at all three levels of government seeking to study it.
In Ottawa, a federal MP is pushing for government research on the subject. Ontario’s provincial budget announced a pilot program to try it out. And in Quebec, a cabinet minister has been assigned to study the topic. The mayors of Calgary and Edmonton are also both on board with looking at the concept.