‘Now what?’ say Swiss papers after pension reform vote

Still not clear: How Switzerland will finance old age pensions Keystone

In addition to being a blow for Swiss Interior Minister Alain Berset, voters’ rejection of the government’s proposed pension reform leaves a lot of open questions. Now it’s up to the winners – especially the centre-right Radical Party – to find another way to secure enough pension money. 

This content was published on September 25, 2017 - 09:43
swissinfo.ch and agencies/sm/dqn

Here’s a round-up of what Swiss newspapers were saying on Monday, the day after major pension reform failed in a nationwide ballot

Neue Zürcher Zeitung

“The plan to stabilize both the first and second pillars together in one go has proved unsuitable. The proposal was too complicated and overloaded, and too unpredictable in its consequences. Above all, it had too many deficiencies, making it vulnerable from various sides – which multiplied the motives for its rejection. The ball is now clearly in the court of parliament’s conservative majority. Voters are perfectly capable of confronting the need for a higher retirement age. There’s no reason to delay this debate any longer.”

Tages-Anzeiger/Der Bund

“The Radical and Swiss People’s parties, business associations in German-speaking Switzerland, and ultra left-wingers from French-speaking Switzerland have succeeded in ensuring that the blockade continues 22 years after the last pension reform. The centre-right Radicals, who led the counter-campaign, are primarily responsible now. However, some rightwing and business representatives hope that people will be willing to retire at age 67 if they think the old age pension fund has a financial crisis. This calculation is cynical and dangerous. Because in the foreseeable future, the majority of voters won’t accept a general increase in the retirement age.” 


“The result is a severe defeat for Interior Minister Alain Berset, who didn’t take the rightwing and trade associations into account. Now the ball is in the court of Radical Party leader Petra Gössi. She has to prove that the people are involved in Plan B. Because only with a yes vote could Sunday’s winners really have felt like winners. Otherwise, they are responsible for putting our old-age pension scheme into an even worse situation.” 

Le Temps

“Now the question of increasing the retirement age of women by one year will be asked soon. Equal treatment as for men seems inevitable. Adjusting the conversion rate is also an urgency arising from the financial markets and higher life expectancy.” 

La Tribune de Genève

“And now what? The need for reform is undisputed. It is about the life or death of the pension system. But it is not clear how the hostile parties of yesterday will find a new compromise within a reasonable time. The cabinet has no choice but to do its utmost to find a solution.” 

Basler Zeitung

“Social Democrat Alain Berset deserves this defeat. Never before has a cabinet minister pushed a bill so aggressively, if not obtrusively. With this leftwing populist model, they attempted to bribe voters they considered less intelligent with CHF70 ($72). Those same people have rejected that model. No, thank you, or to put it in the vernacular, return to sender. But Berset will receive much more than most of those who voted no.”

Swiss voters last accepted a pension reform in 1995. This interactive graphic shows how previous pension votes have played put. 

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