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Swiss Voters Reject Guaranteed-Income Proposal

A giant poster in Geneva reading "What would you do if your income was taken care of?" ahead of Switzerland's  vote on a proposed "basic income" set the <a href="http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/news/charity/2016/5/swiss-group-creates-largest-poster-ever-to-support-vote-for-basic-income-429715">Guinness World Record</a> for the largest poster ever printed.
Fabrice Coffrini
AFP/Getty Images
A giant poster in Geneva reading "What would you do if your income was taken care of?" ahead of Switzerland's vote on a proposed "basic income" set the Guinness World Record for the largest poster ever printed.

Swiss voters over the weekend dealt a stern backslap to a ballot proposal that would have guaranteed a basic monthly income for all 8.1 million residents — regardless of their employment status — of that wealthy European nation.

The vote wasn't even close. Almost 77 percent of voters rejected the proposal that the government give every adult in Switzerland about $2,500 every month. (Children would have received a smaller subsidy of $650.)

Supporters had argued that the bold social experiment would help eradicate poverty and protect workers in an increasingly automated economy. Opponents said the measure, with an estimated price tag of more than $200 billion a year, was too costly and would lead to public spending cuts.

Virtually no one was surprised by the results. As The Wall Street Journal reports:

"The outcome was never in doubt, with the government, businesses and many trade unions lining up in opposition and recent polls suggesting the public was firmly against the idea."

USA Today quotes Alain Berset, the head of Switzerland's Federal Department of Home Affairs, as saying:

"The results demonstrate that voters are satisfied with the way our economy functions and don't think it needs to be revolutionized."

Switzerland was the first country to offer its voters their choice on the idea of a government-guaranteed monthly income, USA Today reports. The newspaper says the proposal is being debated in other countries, including the Netherlands, Finland, Canada and New Zealand.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Richard Gonzales
Richard Gonzales is NPR's National Desk Correspondent based in San Francisco. Along with covering the daily news of region, Gonzales' reporting has included medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California relevant to the rest of the country.