On 5 June 2016, the Swiss electorate voted on the "Unconditional basic income" popular initiative, submitted on 4 October 2013.
Key points in brief
Members of the working-age population in Switzerland are, as a rule, responsible for making their own living. Individuals or households that cannot support themselves receive support from the public purse in the form of targeted social benefits (e.g. daily allowances for the unemployed, disability pensions, social assistance).
The aim of the initiative
The initiative aims at introducing a very different system by means of a constitutional amendment that would require the Confederation to provide an unconditional basic income. This means the federal government would pay a certain amount of money to every person living in Switzerland, regardless of their income and assets. No conditions would be set for receiving this basic income. The authors of the initiative believe this will ensure a decent existence for everyone and allow everybody to participate in public life even if they do not earn a wage. The initiative specifies neither the size of this unconditional basic income nor the means of financing it. These two points would need to be defined by Parliament upon approval of the initiative.
Position of the Federal Council and Parliament
The Federal Council and Parliament both oppose this initiative. They strongly believe that the introduction of an unconditional basic income would weaken the Swiss economy and social security system, as it is possible that fewer people would choose to work. This would exacerbate the existing labour and skills shortage in Switzerland. Furthermore, considerable cutbacks or tax rises would be necessary to finance this basic income, which could not replace today’s social security system entirely.
Last modification 24.01.2022