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‘Island of high prices’ Swiss fair price initiative heads for nationwide vote

Proponents of a Swiss people's initiative bring boxes of signatures to submit in Bern

Down with high prices! Over 100,000 signatures make their way to the Swiss capital.

(Keystone/Peter Klaunzer)

The Swiss people’s initiative “For Fair Prices” handed in 107,908 citizen signatures on Tuesday – well over the 100,000 required to trigger a nationwide vote on the issue of affordable consumer goods.

The text of the initiative, presented with the tagline “stop the island of high prices”, says it “declares war on general importers and foreign suppliers who abuse their power”.

In Switzerland, some consumer goods are much more expensive than in other countries – up to 40% more for clothes and 70% for cosmetics. But the initiative’s proponents argue that these differences in price are only due in small part to the nation’s high salaries and infrastructure costs. In fact, they argue, foreign suppliers keep prices artificially high in Switzerland, exploiting consumers’ purchasing power.

The initiative demands that more businesses be subjected to regulations for abuse of market power. Suppliers who refuse to abide by such rules should be subject to Swiss prosecution abroad, it says.

The plan would not concern agricultural prices, which are politically controlled, or prices for medications, which are set by the Federal Council, Switzerland’s executive body.

Cross-border shopping What to do about Switzerland’s eye-watering prices?

Switzerland remains in a price league of its own, driving thrifty shoppers over its borders. Politicians and consumer groups are now demanding action.

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