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Swiss to vote on pension reform and biodiversity in September

Picture of voting office..

Swiss citizens will vote on a reform of occupational pension schemes and a biodiversity initiative on September 22, the Federal Council announced on Wednesday.

A referendum against a reform of the so-called second pillar of the Swiss pension system, launched at the end of March 2023 by leftwing parties and unions, collected over 141,000 signatures, almost three times more than necessary.

The reform provides for a reduction in the pension conversion rate from 6.8% to 6%, which is necessary due to rising life expectancy. The capital built up in an occupational pension scheme during professional activity is set to result in a smaller annuity.

+ Five key takeaways from Switzerland’s pension votes

Under the reform, half of those who are insured will benefit from pension compensation during a transitional period of 15 years. The threshold for access to the second pillar will be lowered, which will allow 100,000 people to be newly or better insured, mainly people working part time and women.

But for those behind the referendum, people working part time and women will once again be penalised. The majority will suffer pension cuts, they say. They argue that parties on the right had promised to tackle the problem of low pensions, in particular those of women.


The Swiss will also vote on a biodiversity initiative. The proposal calls for adequate resources and space for nature. It also wants to anchor better protection of the landscape and Switzerland’s building heritage in the Swiss Constitution.

+ Biodiversity petition signed by more than 40,000 people

The government had put forward a counterproposal on this issue. The campaigners were ready to withdraw their text if the counterproposal was adopted in parliament. The House of Representatives was favourable, but took out certain elements.

+ Close to 20% of Swiss wildlife on the verge of local extinction

Senators, however, argued that it still went too far and would have significant consequences, particularly on agriculture, tourism and energy production. The Senate eventually voted to reject the Federal Council’s counterproposal.

Adapted from French by DeepL/sb

This news story has been written and carefully fact-checked by an external editorial team. At SWI we select the most relevant news for an international audience and use automatic translation tools such as DeepL to translate it into English. Providing you with automatically translated news gives us the time to write more in-depth articles.

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