Navigation

Skiplink Navigation

Main Features

Breaks for rich Lump sum tax splits political centre

Voters in Nidwalden decided to maintain lump sum taxation in ballot last year. 

(Keystone)

A leftwing initiative to scrap a preferential tax regime for wealthy foreigners will likely fall short of an absolute majority. A poll found 48% of respondents in favour but the campaign still has to get underway. 

Five weeks ahead of a nationwide vote on November 30, supporters of the initiative have a 12% lead, according to a survey carried out by the GfS Bern research and polling institute in mid-October. But with the campaign by both camps only just starting, 16% of respondents said they are still undecided. “People are now beginning to make up their minds,” says GfS Bern political scientist Martina Imfeld. 

(swissinfo.ch)

The issue pits the left, including the trade unions, against all the other major parties. The government as well as the business community also recommend a no vote, saying abolition of lump sum taxation could damage Switzerland’s economy. Supporters argue a preferential fiscal treatment goes against the fundamental principle of tax justice enshrined in the constitution. 

Imfeld says rejection of the initiative at the end of next month is more likely than approval, despite a potential of protest votes. Initiatives often lose support as the campaign gathers pace and those undecided join the no camp, according to GfS Bern’s over 20 years of scientific experience as pollsters. 

Divisions

The latest survey found that the grassroots of centrist and rightwing parties are currently divided. Low and average income earners are also split down the middle. 

Immigration Ecopop

PLACEHOLDER

The Swiss are sceptical of a controversial proposal to limit population growth in order to reduce Switzerland’s ecological footprint, according to the results of an opinion poll five weeks ahead of a vote on the issue. 

Only one in three (35%) people surveyed said they would vote yes on November 30. The poll by the leading GfS Bern research institute found 58% against, with 7% undecided. 

PLACEHOLDER

Ecopop - launched by a committee of ecologists - wants to limit net immigration to 0.2% of population growth – about 16,000 people annually. The five-year average immigration is about 80,000 people. 

“A long shadow is hanging over the Ecopop initiative,” said Claude Longchamp, political scientist and head of the institute, explaining that the Swiss are now aware of the negative consequences any moves to limit immigration could have following a similar vote in February. 

At that time, the electorate narrowly approved a rightwing initiative to re-introduce immigration quotas, which could effectively annul an accord on the free movement of people with the European Union. 

But Brussels has so far refused to re-negotiate the bilateral agreement which has been in force since 2002. And the European Commission temporarily suspended co-operation on research programmes, film production and a student exchange scheme. 

Differences

Longchamp did however point out important differences between the February vote and the Ecopop initiative. 

The political scientist said so far the campaign had failed to do better for a number of reasons, including the Ecopop committee’s inability to win over support from centre-right and rightwing parties. 

He sees an outside chance of an improved result for Ecopop if its backers succeed in mobilising voters who don’t support a political party. 

“It would also take a credible, independent personality to give a strong boost to the campaign,” says Longchamp. 

The opinion poll also found potential divisions between the leadership of the rightwing People’s Party - like the other main parties it is officially against Ecopop’s initiative - and its grassroots. More than 60% of People’s Party supporters say they would approve the immigration caps for ecological reasons. 

Among language regions, only in Italian-speaking southern Switzerland did a majority (51%) of respondents come out in favour.

Longchamp said this was also the case with people considered generally critical of the government as well as low wage earners. 

PLACEHOLDER

Joining the  cabinet and major political parties in opposing the Ecopop initiative are the business community, trade unions, development aid organisations and churches. 

During debate in both chambers of parliament earlier this year there were only four votes supporting the plan. 

Arguments

Critics say the initiative is harmful to bilateral relations with the EU – Switzerland’s main trading partner - and could lead to a further shortage of skilled workers following the February vote. 

Supporters have argued that population control is necessary to reduce pressure on the environment. Some also say the February immigration curbs do not go far enough and need further tightening. 

Even if the initiative is voted down on November 30, immigration issues will likely remain high on the political agenda. Recent surveys, including one by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), show immigration continuing to be a major concern of the Swiss. Therefore immigration is expected to figure strongly in the campaigning ahead of the 2015 parliamentary elections. 

A second opinion poll on the November 30 votes - commissioned by the SBC, swissinfo’s parent company - will be published on November 19.

Gold reserves

An initiative to set strict rules for Switzerland’s central bank, notably a minimum 20% of gold reserves, appears to be supported by 44% of respondents. 

The SBC poll shows 39% against and 17% respondents still undecided. 

The proposal, launched by a committee of People’s Party politicians, wants to stop the sale of gold held by the National Bank and store all the reserves in Switzerland. 

No major political party has recommended a yes vote. 

A third issue to come to a nationwide vote is a leftwing initiative to scrap a preferential fiscal regime for wealthy foreigners in Switzerland, so-called lump sum taxation.

end of infobox

 

SBC poll

The pollsters interviewed 1,206 Swiss citizens from across the country for the first of two nationwide surveys ahead of the November 30 vote. 

Swiss expatriates are not be included in the poll. 

The telephone interviews took place between October 13-18. 

The margin of error is 2.9%. 

The survey was commissioned by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, swissinfo’s parent company, and carried out by the leading GfS Bern research and polling institute.

end of infobox

The four cantons with the bulk of lump sum-taxed foreigners - Geneva, Vaud, Valais and Ticino - could play a crucial part, says Imfeld. Two of them often vote with the political left. But it remains to be seen whether or not the relatively high number of undecided respondents in the French-speaking part will support the initiative, she adds. 

Previous votes

Zurich was the first canton to abolished lump sum taxation in 2009. Four others – out of a total of 26 - later followed suit. Five cantons decided to maintain the regime but tightened the rules. 

The system of lump sum taxation is based on the lifestyle and spending habits of the taxpayer in Switzerland and not on the actual revenue or fortune. About 5,600 people, mainly living on Lake Geneva, Ticino and in mountain resorts in canton Valais, benefit from the preferential regime. 

It is believed that the beneficiaries of the tax regime include Formula One elites Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton and Bernie Ecclestone, as well as Russian billionaires Viktor Vekselberg and Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Celebrities from the entertainment industry such as singer Phil Collins and actress Julie Andrews, have also been living in Switzerland.

Gold reserves

An initiative to set strict rules for Switzerland’s central bank, notably a minimum 20% of gold reserves, appears to be supported by 44% of respondents. 

The SBC poll shows 39% against and 17% respondents still undecided. 

The proposal, launched by a committee of People’s Party politicians, wants to stop the sale of gold held by the National Bank and store all the reserves in Switzerland. 

No major political party has recommended a yes vote. 

SBC poll

The pollsters interviewed 1,206 Swiss citizens from across the country for the first of two nationwide surveys ahead of the November 30 vote. 

Swiss expatriates are not be included in the poll. 

The telephone interviews took place between October 13-18. 

The margin of error is 2.9%. 

The survey was commissioned by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, swissinfo’s parent company, and carried out by the leading GfS Bern research and polling institute.

end of infobox

swissinfo.ch


Links

Neuer Inhalt

Horizontal Line


swissinfo EN

Teaser Join us on Facebook!

Join us on Facebook!

subscription form

Form for signing up for free newsletter.

Sign up for our free newsletters and get the top stories delivered to your inbox.








Click here to see more newsletters