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Polls show Swiss pension reform hangs in the balance

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Polls show Swiss pension reform hangs in the balance
Photo: alexwraths/Depositphotos
10:08 CEST+02:00
With only just over a week to go until the Swiss people vote on a significant reform to the country’s pension system, the polls are neck and neck.
According to a survey by 20 Minutes publisher Tamedia, the reform will be narrowly rejected, with only 48 percent in favour of the plan and 49 percent against it. Three percent said they had not decided.
 
However a second survey by research institute gfs.bern showed the reverse, with 51 percent in favour of the reforms, a slight decrease from the 53 percent who expressed support for the plan during the institute’s first survey in August. 
 
The vote takes place on September 24th and comes after parliament finally agreed on a package to secure funding for old age pensions following more than two years of debate.
 
The reforms are necessary to ensure the future of Switzerland’s  AVS/AHV state pension scheme – the first pillar of the country’s three-pillar system – which, if nothing changes, will suffer a huge deficit due to the aging population. 
 
People will be asked to vote on two issues: a suite of reforms to the pension scheme, and a constitutional amendment to raise VAT by 0.6 percent from eight percent at present.
 
Both proposals must be accepted if the government’s plans are to go ahead.
 
 
Under the planned reform the retirement age for women would be raised to 65 from 64, bringing it into line with that for men.
 
Second pillar (occupational) pension payments will decrease from 6.8 percent of the capital per year to six percent, although salary deductions will go up slightly.
 
That will be compensated with an additional monthly 70 francs in AVS/AHV payments from 2019, financed through the rise in VAT.
 
Voters on the political left are much more in favour of the reforms than the right, with Socialists and Greens both over 70 percent in favour, according to the Tamedia survey, while voters with the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) and Liberal-Radicals are only 18 percent and 45 percent in favour respectively.
 
On the whole, older voters support the plans more than younger people, found both surveys.
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