Preliminary poll projections released Sunday indicate Swiss voters have rejected a plan to create a basic monthly income for all citizens, local media reported. The question was put to a public vote after several advocacy groups helped garner the more than 100,000 signatures necessary to trigger a referendum.
There is little political or popular support of the idea for basic monthly income, however, according to preliminary projections from GFS for Swiss television. Around 78 percent of Swiss voters rejected the proposal that would have created monthly income for all people regardless of their employment status. The proposed amount would have been 2,500 Swiss francs, or approximately $2,555 for an adult per month and was in response to the high cost of living in Switzerland.
“In Switzerland over 50 percent of total work that is done is unpaid. It’s care work, it’s at home, it’s in different communities, so that work would be more valued with a basic income,” Che Wagner from the campaign group Basic Income Switzerland said, the BBC reported.
The referendum in Switzerland was the first time the question of universal basic income had been put to a popular vote. Advocates of basic income say it would help ease some income inequality while strengthening a social safety net. Critics counter it would be costly to the government, cause a spike in immigration and potentially encourage unemployed people not to look for a job.
Several other countries in Europe, including Finland and Spain have been discussing the implementation of some form of basic income. Four cities in the Netherlands instituted a pilot program for basic income, hoping it would encourage people to take short-term employment without fear of losing their benefits.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, among other Middle Eastern countries, have some form of universal basic income, as does the state of Alaska. The system differs from welfare because instead of having multiple welfare systems for food, shelter and other basic needs, unconditional basic income allocates a lump sum to individuals.
As much of the work that humans used to do becomes increasingly outsourced or replaced by automated machines, unconditional income has been floated as a way to support humans who are replaced by robots in the workforce. Since this problem has not fully materialized, however, the high cost of such an initiative in the U.S. is not worth the risk, the Economist reported.
“The basic income is an answer to a problem that has not yet materialized,” the analysis published Saturday said.