GENEVA (AP) — Swiss voters narrowly backed a proposal on Sunday to raise the retirement age for women from 64 to 65, public broadcaster SRF reported.
A separate proposal to impose stricter animal welfare rules for livestock was heading for a big defeat, SRF also reported.
The change means that the Swiss pension system would require women to work an extra year before they can claim full pension benefits. Men already have to work until they are 65 to get all the benefits.
It’s part of a law already passed by parliament, but requiring voter approval, that would also involve raising the country’s value added tax to help replenish the funds of the Swiss pension system. Officials say the number of retirees is growing faster than the number of working people.
Such measures are seen as necessary to shore up the state-backed pension fund over the next decade as baby boomers increasingly retire and people live longer, especially women. .
Opponents said the change falls entirely on the shoulders of women, whose pay through the pension scheme is generally lower than that of men – and will only deepen the inequalities and injustice they say have plagued since women in Switzerland for a long time.
The SRF reported that the retirement measure was narrowly passed – 50.6% for against 49.4% against. Support was strongest in the German-speaking parts of Switzerland, while a majority of those in the French-speaking and Italian-speaking cantons (states) voted against.
The proposal to improve living conditions for its livestock has come from environmentally conscious groups who want to end “intensive farming” – where animals are often confined to tight spaces – and demand for them more humane living conditions.
The Swiss parliament and executive opposed the proposal, arguing that it would drive up prices and that “production animals” are already well protected and well treated in Switzerland.
Last year, some 80 million animals were fattened and slaughtered in Switzerland, an increase of almost 50% compared to the previous generation.
Recent polls showed that a majority of voters initially supported the idea but then began to downgrade, in part due to resistance from ranchers who argued the measure would be difficult to implement and would result in further increases in meat prices.
According to SRF, almost 63% of voters opposed the measure at the ballot box.
Several other local referendums also took place on Sunday, including one in the canton of Lucerne where voters chose not to help fund a new barracks for the Swiss Guards at the Vatican.
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