Voters set to deal triple blow

A majority of those polled came out against a package of tax cuts

Swiss voters look set to reject plans by the government and parliament for tax breaks and pension cuts.

This content was published on May 5, 2004 - 18:04

An opinion poll commissioned by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation has found a clear majority poised to vote down proposals at the ballot box on May 16.

The results, published on Wednesday, show 56 per cent of voters are against a package of tax cuts, mainly for families, property owners and shareholders.

Only 23 per cent say they would vote in favour, while 21 per cent are still undecided.

Compared with an earlier opinion poll, carried out by the Demoscope research and marketing institute, opposition has increased by 14 per cent over the past month.

The findings are being seen as a boost for the Centre-left, trade unions and many of Switzerland’s regional authorities, the cantons, which have campaigned against the proposals.

They argue that only the rich would benefit from lower federal taxes, while the cantons stand to lose an estimated SFr4 billion ($3.1 billion) in revenue annually.

No, no, no

Other issues on the national ballot sheets on May 16 also appear to have failed to convince a majority of voters.

Almost 50 per cent of those polled said they would reject plans to cut state old-age pensions. The government and parliament want to save SFr925 million in a bid to shore up the central pillar of Switzerland’s social security system.

A quarter of voters said they favoured an overhaul of the pension scheme, while another 27 per cent were still undecided.

The government has warned that the pension system needs revising as a result of the increase in the number of pensioners and a decline in the number of contributors.

However, the centre-left Social Democratic Party has argued that women will bear the brunt of the reforms, which include plans to increase the retirement age for women from 64 to 65.

Growing opposition

The latest poll also suggests that a proposed 1.8 per cent hike in Value Added Tax (VAT) to shore up the Invalidity Pension Fund and old-age pensions will be rejected at the ballot box.

Demoscope says opponents have a 15 per cent lead, while 13 per cent of people interviewed for the survey were undecided.

Parliament, the government and two of the country’s four main parties, the centre-right Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats, have recommended a “yes” vote.

But the rightwing Swiss People’s Party, the centre-right Radicals and part of the business community have campaigned against the tax rise in the run-up to the vote.

swissinfo, Urs Geiser

Key facts

Tax breaks: 56% no; 23% yes; 21% undecided.
Pension reform: 48% no; 25% yes; 27% undecided.
Increase in VAT: 51% no, 36% yes, 13% undecided.
The poll is based on interviews with 1,216 people from across Switzerland, with a margin of error of 3%.
The interviews took place from April 28 - 30.
Ballot boxes close on May 16, when results will be announced.

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