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Swiss Say No to Basic Income for All | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In this May 14, 2016 file picture a huge poster reading “What would you do if your income were taken care of?” is pictured on the Plaine de Plainpalais square in Geneva, Switzerland. AP

Geneva-The Swiss have flatly rejected to provide the entire population with a basic income in a referendum on an initiative to give an unconditional, basic income (UBI) to each Swiss national, along with legal foreign residents.

Final results in the referendum showed 78 percent of voters opposed the proposal.

The group behind the initiative had suggested paying 2,500 Swiss francs ($2,500/2,300 euros) a month to each adult and 625 francs for each child.

Such a sum, however, would hardly cover basic living costs in Switzerland, which is one of the world’s priciest nations where the median income is above 6,000 francs a month.

Authorities have estimated an additional 25 billion francs would be needed annually to cover the costs, requiring deep spending cuts or steep tax hikes.

Supporters of the UBI initiative were not cowed by the resounding defeat, insisting that their main objective had been to get people talking about the idea.

“We are very happy,” Ralph Kundig, one of the lead campaigners, said.

According to Switzerland’s political system, which has a feature of direct democracy, the people rather than lawmakers vote on important issues.

The Swiss are invited three to four times yearly to vote on several issues proposed by the government or by certain groups from the population.

Campaigners need to collect 100,000 signatures to force a vote on their proposal.