Pension reform plan to face public vote

Switzerland is ageing, but struggling in efforts to update its pension system. Keystone / Dominic Steinmann

Left-wing politicians and trade unions have gathered double the amount of signatures needed to challenge an ongoing pension reform plan to a referendum.

This content was published on February 15, 2022 - 11:27

Over 100,000 signatures against a reform agreed in parliament last December were gathered in just 50 days, parliamentarian and Trade Union Federation boss Pierre-Yves Maillard told the BlickExternal link newspaper on Tuesday – double the necessary 50,000.

The parliament-backed reform aims to stabilise the financing of the country’s pension system as the population continues to age. It notably includes a controversial measure to raise the retirement age for women from 64 to 65.

Maillard told Blick that women are particularly concerned and “angry” about the reform, which they see as a bad deal, given that already under the current system they have on average much lower pensions that men.

Democratic sticking point

Backers of the reform, notably government and the parliamentary majority, say it’s necessary to ensure the Swiss old-age finance system stays viable beyond 2030. It foresees financial compensation for women directly affected, as well as an increase in value-added tax.

However, several attempts to adapt the Swiss pension system have failed at the ballot box over the past 30 years, notably in 2017.

At least three different people’s initiatives to reform the pension system are pending, often coming at the issue from very different angles; last year, a centre-right initiative handed in signatures to raise the retirement age for both men and women to 66 by 2032.

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