Monday, 19 May 2014

What Public Voting Means in Switzerland

The Swiss went to vote this weekend....on issues, not political candidates.  Yeah, it's an odd thing.  Basically, the political parties decided that buying new fighter jets and bulking up the minimum wage....was way beyond their ability.  Imagine that in the US.

So, on spending roughly four billion on a squadron of new fighter jets?  No.....won by around eight-percent.  No one was really able to charm the public on the idea that Switzerland needed replacement jets.  To be honest, no one has really threatened the country in 150-odd years, and it's a hard sell to convince people to spend billions on something of limited value.

The other big item to vote on?  Raising the minimum wage to the equivalent of twenty-five dollars an hour.  Yeah, it's a hefty amount to imagine.

Here's the thing....the vote to raise the wage lost...by more than thirty-percent, which says a good bit about Swiss society and they perceive the issue.

Living in Switzerland....is a pretty difficult deal.  I've been to the country several times and can say it's the greatest place to visit for a weekend or week....but you need to shell out cash about every hour, and life isn't cheap.  Most folks tend to say....to live an average lifestyle....you need $4,000 a month.  You add this up and come to realize that it's a hefty price.

The reasoning for the massive 'no' vote?  What business operations said was that they'd pay it if they had to....but they'd decrease their operation by some degree because they weren't going to sustain enough profit.  People listened to the argument and eventually agreed.

The end?  Well....no.  What some pro-minimum wage enthusiasts say....is that it'll come up again within a decade, and it'll eventually end up passing.  The political figures who declined to vote on this and turned it into a national vote?  I'm guessing the major parties all knew it'd fail and they avoided bad public relations on the subject.

Running a vote like this in most US states?  Well....it might pass if you said $8.80 an hour.  To suggest $12 or $15 an hour?  No....I don't think a single state would get enough public votes.  So, it comes down to political parties putting it as a big draw item, and trying to pass it nationally.  The same might have occurred with the fighter jet situation in the US too.  If you said we could only buy twenty-two jets for four billion dollars.....we'd vote that down too.  Maybe it's a good thing we don't run public votes like this.