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Swiss libertarians push for vote to guarantee the survival of cash

Swiss cash
Digital modes of payment got a boost during the Covid pandemic but some say cash is still king. Keystone / Georgios Kefalas

The Swiss people are likely to vote on a people’s initiative for the conservation of money and banknotes launched by the Swiss libertarian movement (Mouvement libertaire suisse).

“Cash is freedom,” according to the initiative’s backers, making it “an absolute priority for Switzerland”. The movement fears a complete digitisation of monetary transactions. It seeks to prevent the abolition of cash by means of a constitutional guarantee so that Switzerland always has enough money and banknotes. They also propose that any move to abolish the Swiss franc would have to be approved by the people and the cantons.

The Swiss political system is characterised by a very high level of citizen participation. One of the pillars of Switzerland’s direct democracy is the principle of the people’s initiatives, which allow citizens to propose a total or partial reform of the constitution. In order to be valid, an initiative must garner at least 100,000 signatures from citizens within 18 months. It then goes to a nationwide vote.

More than 157,000 signatures have been collected so far by the libertarian movement, the Swiss-German language newspaper NZZ am Sonntag reported on Sunday. Of these, more than 111,000 have already been validated.

The authors of the initiative are concerned about the spread of electronic transactions and fear that cash will eventually be abolished. They see this trend as a risk to freedom, with increased possibilities for surveillance.

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