GENEVA: Swiss voters on Sunday accepted by a hair a divisive pension reform plan, which will raise women’s retirement age to the same as men’s, but snubbed a push to ban factory farming Final results showed a tiny majority of Swiss approved a government plan to reform the country’s pension system for the first time in more than a quarter of a century.

Bern has long argued the need to “stabilise” the country’s old-age security system, under pressure as life expectancy rises and the giant baby boomer generation reaches retirement age.

After failing twice to get the approval needed for similar plans, in 2004 and 2017, two separate votes on different aspects of the reform passed Sunday. Just 50.57 percent of Swiss agreed to the most controversial part of the reform, involving hiking women’s retirement age by one year. This means women will need to work until the age of 65 before receiving a full pension, bringing them en par with their male counterparts. A separate vote on boosting funding for the reform through a sales tax hike meanwhile passed with 55 percent in favour.

Parliament approved the key measures last year, but left-leaning parties and unions decried the reform “on the backs of women” and pushed the issue to a referendum under Switzerland’s direct democratic system.

Backers of the reform argued that it was reasonable for men and women to retire at the same age, with Celine Amaudruz, vice president of the populist rightwing Swiss People’s Party hailing the vote as “a first step towards permanence” for the old-age insurance system.

Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2022

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