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Guaranteed income and tax equality: what the Swiss public said NO to in 2016

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Guaranteed income and tax equality: what the Swiss public said NO to in 2016
Photo: Valeriano di Domenico/AFP
11:56 CET+01:00
The public voted on nine popular initiatives in 2016 and rejected them all.
The ideas they dismissed included a radical plan to provide a basic income of 2,500 francs for every Swiss resident, another suggesting that foreign criminals guilty of minor crimes should be deported, and the 'AVSPlus' initiative which called for a ten percent increase in pension payments.
 
The last to be rejected, in November, had proposed Switzerland begin its withdrawal from nuclear power in 2017.
 
The popular initiative that came closest to winning the public over, put to the vote in February, called for tax equality for married couples. It was defeated by just 50.8 percent.
 
Under Switzerland's system of direct democracy, in force since 1848, the Swiss people are called to the ballot box up to four times a year. 
 
Some legislation passed by parliament must be put to the public vote – particularly if it requires a change to the constitution – but members of the public may also request a referendum, either if they wish to object to a new law or they want to change the constitution through a popular initiative.
 
If they want to challenge a new law they have 100 days to gather 50,000 signatures in order for it to go to the public vote. 
 
If they wish to launch a popular initiative they must collect 100,000 signatures in 18 months.
 
However even if their idea does make it to the ballot box, statistically they are unlikely to win the public over.
 
Since popular initiatives were introduced at federal level in 1891, 209 have been voted on but only 22 have been accepted.
 
The last popular initiative to be accepted by the public was voted on in May 2014 and called for convicted paedophiles to be banned from working with children.
 
It was in February of that year that another popular initiative called for quotas to be placed on EU immigration. Narrowly passed by 50.3 percent of the public, it sparked nearly three years of turmoil as parliament grappled to find a way to implement it without contravening the country's bilateral agreements with the EU. 
 
On Friday news agencies suggested that popular initiatives may be losing their appeal in Switzerland.  
 
Six popular initiatives were launched this year, the same number as in 2015 but half the dozen launched in 2014 and far fewer than the 24 initiatives set in motion in 2011, they said.
 
Currently 13 popular initiatives are in the system waiting to be put to the public vote in the future. 
 
2016's popular initiatives, all rejected:
 
February
 
1. For the couple and the family – no to the penalization of marriage 
 
2. For the automatic deportation of foreign criminals
 
3. No speculation on basic foodstuffs
 
May
 
4. In favour of public services
 
5. For an unconditional basic income
 
6. For equitable financing for transport
 
September
 
7. For a sustainable economy based on efficient resource management (green economy)
 
8. AVSPlus - for a strong AVS
 
November
 
9. For an orderly withdrawal from nuclear power

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