Heavy defeats at the ballot box

Two parties failed miserably with proposals on key issues at the referendum held on 8 March – the Swiss Green Liberal Party (GLP) with its “Energy tax instead of VAT” initiative and the Christian Democratic People’s Party with its “Strengthen families! Tax-free child and educational allowances” initiative. Both proposals were intended to boost their parties’ election campaigns but ultimately flopped.

The GLP idea of abolishing VAT in favour of a tax on non-renewable energies was overwhelmingly opposed with 92 percent against. This is an historic defeat: only once, in 1929, has a popular initiative won less support. The outcome shows that combining the issue of energy with the tax system was ill-fated. The VAT system is firmly established in the minds of the Swiss public. The crushing defeat of the GLP’s very first popular initiative represents a major setback for the recently established party which is accustomed to success. It remains to be seen whether the previously broad support enjoyed by the Federal Council’s steering tax relating to the turnaround in energy policy will now come under pressure owing to this referendum result.

The CVP also has to come to terms with a bitter defeat. Its initiative too was resoundingly rejected with 75.4?% of “No” votes. Financial considerations, above all, may have played a major role. The adoption of the initiative would have resulted in tax deficits of around a billion Swiss francs for federal government, the cantons and the communes.

Jürg Müller is an editor WITH THE “Swiss Review”

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