Swiss voters to decide on guaranteed monthly income plan

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 05, 2016 6:35 AM

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland votes in a referendum on Sunday on a proposal to introduce a guaranteed basic income for everyone living in the country, a debate also gaining prominence elsewhere.

Even though opinion polls showed the initiative by Basel cafe owner Daniel Haeni and allies has scant chances of victory, public interest in the matter is huge, far beyond Swiss borders.

Supporters said introducing a monthly income of 2,500 Swiss francs ($2,563) per adult and 625 francs per child under 18 would promote human dignity and public service. Opponents, including the government, said it would cost too much and weaken the economy.

Campaigners tried to gain international attention by creating a poster bigger than a soccer field asking "What would you do if your income was secure?" and showing it in Geneva and Berlin, and, via a video of the performance, in New York.

They had also handed out free 10-franc notes to passersby.

Switzerland with its system of direct democracy is the first country to hold a national referendum on an unconditional basic income, but other countries including Finland are examining similar plans.

(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Toby Chopra)