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Support drops for pension reform and factory farming ban 

A reform of the Swiss old age pension system has lost ground but is still likely to win a majority in a nationwide vote later this month, pollsters say. 

Support for a proposed ban on factory farming has also fallen slightly and the initiative isn’t expected to have the upper hand on September 25.

Ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections, the political left could be heading for a multiple defeat in ten days’ time if voters approve a planned reform of the withholding tax as the poll chart below shows.

The initiative by animal rights groups and left-wing parties to introduce eco-friendly standards for livestock farming in Switzerland has attracted considerable international interest.

However, the outcome of the vote appears to be a foregone conclusion if the latest opinion poll by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) is anything to go by.

“The data from our poll leaves no doubt that the initiative will most likely flop,” says Lukas Golder, co-director of the leading GfS Bern institute, which carried out the survey.

The most popular argument against the initiative is that regulations in Switzerland are strict enough to safeguard animals according to Golder.



A clear indication of the expected outcome is a negative trend among middle-income earners, he adds.

Yet the proposal still enjoys more support among women than among male respondents in the poll, according to Golder.

Solid backing for pension reform

Another gender gap could widen in the two related votes about a reform of the state old age pension scheme, including raising the retirement age for women to 65 and an increase in value added tax for consumers.

“The gap might even reach record levels,” says political scientist Martina Mousson of the GfS Bern institute. “The reason is that women are obviously directly affected.”

She added that support for the reform has remained solid, even though opposition has won ground since the first opinion poll four weeks ago. “The campaigns don’t seem to have brought a major change as many people had made up their minds before,” she said.

It would take a massive turnout among left-wing voters for a last-minute turnaround, according to Mousson.

“But it is remarkable that a substantial share of left-wing voters is in favour of the reform, defying their own parties,” she said.

The trade unions and their traditional allies, the Social Democrats and the Greens, forced a referendum about the parliamentary decision on one of the key political issues of the past three years, say experts.

Open tax reform

No clear picture has emerged yet in the poll about a planned reform of the withholding tax system, challenged to a vote by the political left.

Mousson described the current situation as “ambivalent”, with supporters only three percentage points ahead and nearly one in ten respondents in the poll saying they hadn’t made up their minds.

“The race is open, and it may all come down to whether opponents will be able to mobilise its grassroots,” she said.

A majority of women say they will reject the reform, according to the poll published on Wednesday, creating a third gender gap.

This is not unusual in Swiss politics, but the divide might reach unprecedented dimensions on September 25 according to Mousson.

Polling details

Pollsters interviewed 8,642 Swiss citizens from all language regions across the country and among the expatriate Swiss community for the second of two nationwide surveys.

The survey is based on online responses as well as telephone interviews, both with fixed line and mobile phone users, and was carried out between August 31 and September 7.

The margin of error is 2.8%.

The poll was commissioned by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) –’s parent company – and carried out by the GfS Bern research institute.

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SWI – the international service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Since 1999, has fulfilled the federal government’s mandate to distribute information about Switzerland internationally, supplementing the online offerings of the radio and television stations of the SBC. Today, the international service is directed above all at an international audience interested in Switzerland, as well as at Swiss citizens living abroad.
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