'3,000 francs a month?': Zurich to vote on trying universal basic income
On Sunday September 25th, while the Swiss will decide on three national issues in a national referendum, Zurich voters will weigh in on a pilot project involving the recurring issue of universal basic income.
The idea of the government handing out a set amount of money to its citizens is not a novel concept in Switzerland: in 2016, a referendum made Switzerland the first country in the world to vote at national level on this issue.
But 76.9 percent of voters rejected this initiative because they could not see how it could be funded without increasing taxes.
Some left-leaning districts in Zurich, however, voted in favour of the universal basic income (UBI), and while nothing came of it on the national level at the time, the city will re-vote on this issue on Sunday.
While the exact details are still muddy, voters will decide whether to offer “free” money on monthly basis to 500 residents chosen for the pilot project.
Though the amount is not yet determined, it could likely be between 2,500 and 3,000 francs a month.
Contrary to what had been proposed at the federal level in 2016, the part paid by the city government will vary according to income from work.
For the political left, which launched the proposal, UBI “represents a possible answer to current challenges such as automation, poverty and the climate crisis”, the group says on its website.
Among the opponents, the municipal council “believes that paid work is the most important element to ensure the livelihood of individuals and at the same time create social prosperity”.
Does this proposal have a chance of success?
Based on the outcome of the national vote, probably not.
On a municipal level too, such initiatives have already failed in Bern and Lucerne.
However, as Swiss media points out, “Zurich is very left”, so perhaps UBI can get more of a boost there.
As far as the national referendum on September 25th is concerned, this article explains what issues will be voted on: