On 5 June 2016, the Swiss electorate voted on The "Pro public services" popular initiative, submitted on 30 May 2013.
Key points in brief
Public services – the provision of basic services such as public transportation, postal services and telecommunications – are valued particularly highly in Switzerland. Citizens enjoy excellent public services in all regions of the country – even where they are not economically profitable. The Confederation sets the framework and ensures that high-quality services are made available at reasonable prices. This is an important precondition for Switzerland’s high standard of living and economic prosperity.
The aim of the initiative
According to the initiative committee, public service standards have deteriorated, and so they want to see them improved and any further decrease prevented. According to this initiative, the Confederation and affiliated companies such as Swisscom, Swiss Post or the SBB should not seek financial gain in the provision of public services, should not cross-subsidise other areas and pursue no fiscal interests. Employees working in these companies should not earn more than staff in the Federal Administration. Furthermore, basic universal service provision should be detailed separately from other services in financial reporting.
Position of the Federal Council and Parliament
The Federal Council and Parliament both oppose this initiative. Switzerland has a good, reliable system of public services, which takes account of customers’ needs and current technological developments, and compares favourably with services in other countries. Rather than strengthening public services, accepting the initiative would, in fact, weaken them, as the competitiveness and entrepreneurial freedom of the companies concerned would be limited too severely. Because of the resulting decrease in revenue, the Confederation might have to reduce services or increase taxes.
Last modification 13.07.2016