The Swiss vote to extend women’s work by one year – 09/25/2022 at 17:46

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Vote in Switzerland: Women will have to work one more year before retirement - 09/25/2022 at 13:19


Election posters on a pension reform, September 23, 2022 in a street in Geneva, Switzerland, two days before a vote (AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI)

The Swiss voted narrowly in favor of extending the retirement age for women to 65, a vote marked by a deep divide between the German-speaking part of the Alpine country, favorable to the reform, and the other cantons.

The yes narrowly won with only 50.6% of the vote, according to the final results published on Sunday.

On the other hand, a closely scrutinized popular initiative abroad, which tried to ban intensive farming, was largely rejected, with 63% of the votes against.

After two aborted attempts in 2004 and 2017, Bern therefore collected enough votes to implement its plan intended to “stabilize” the Swiss old-age insurance system, which is under enormous pressure as life expectancy increases and the generation of baby boomers reach retirement age.

Election posters on a pension reform, September 23, 2022 in a street in Geneva, Switzerland, two days before a vote (AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI)

Election posters on a pension reform, September 23, 2022 in a street in Geneva, Switzerland, two days before a vote (AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI)

The most controversial part of the reform requires that, like men, women work until they are 65, before they can claim a full pension. A year older than now.

Parliament approved key pension reform measures last year, which also include a VAT hike (passed 55% on Sunday).

For the women of the Socialist Party the yes “is not only a big step backwards in terms of equality, it is a slap in the face for all women”. They announced a demonstration in Bern on Monday to denounce the result.

– 35% lower pensions –

Opponents of the reform had pointed to the wage discrimination that continues to plague women and believe it is unfair to raise the retirement age for them without first addressing these inequalities.

An electoral poster on a pension reform, on September 23, 2022 in a street in Geneva, Switzerland, two days before a vote (AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI)

An electoral poster on a pension reform, on September 23, 2022 in a street in Geneva, Switzerland, two days before a vote (AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI)

Yes supporters have pointed out that asking women to work an extra year is not unreasonable in view of economic and demographic data.

In 2020, women in Switzerland received on average nearly 35% lower pensions than their male counterparts, according to the Swiss economy ministry.

“Dividing the country on such a subject is not a good policy. It will leave traces,” said Sunday the president of the Swiss Trade Union Union (USS), Pierre-Yves Maillard, underlining the gap with the German-speaking cantons, but also fearing an increase in tension between men and women, as well as between social classes.

Posters against intensive farming in a field near Collex-Bossy, Switzerland, September 15, 2022 (AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI)

Posters against intensive farming in a field near Collex-Bossy, Switzerland, September 15, 2022 (AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI)

For the vice-president of the Swiss SVP (radical right), Céline Amaudruz, this yes is “a first step to ensure the sustainability” of pension insurance. “For us, equality is not an à la carte menu”.

The proposal to ban intensive farming, which would have essentially eradicated industrial farms in a country which is still very rural even if agriculture weighs relatively little in the national wealth, was rejected by a final vote.

The Swiss felt that the welfare of farm animals was already respected in the Alpine country.

The government, parliament and representative herders’ organizations were strongly opposed to the initiative.

According to current laws, farms cannot keep more than 1,500 fattening pigs, 27,000 broilers or 300 calves, which excludes the gigantic factory farms found in other countries.

A poster against intensive farming in a field near Bioley-Orjulaz, Switzerland, September 17, 2022 (AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI)

A poster against intensive farming in a field near Bioley-Orjulaz, Switzerland, September 17, 2022 (AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI)

Bern had also warned that these new rules would lead to a significant increase in prices, while the import clause could have an impact on relations with trading partners.

Despite the massive refusal, it is nevertheless a victory for Vera Weber, the president of the Franz Weber Foundation for the protection of nature and animals. She welcomes the fact that the text has enabled Switzerland to discuss the issue of intensive farming and meat consumption.

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