Brussels, 4 March 2013. Yesterday 67, 9 per cent of eligible Swiss citizens voted in favour of a citizen initiative to limit the salaries of top executives and to allow shareholders of publicly traded companies to decide on what bonuses should be paid. The referendum yielded the third highest result in Switzerland’s history of direct democracy, which gives citizens the right to launch proposals to change parts of the constitution since 1891.
“Yesterday’s result is a strong signal to implement direct democracy in any country of the world as it has given the power to the people to correct economic injustice, says Gerald Häfner, Chairperson of Democracy International. “The world would be better if citizens had the right to vote directly on economic issues that allow us to get the world of finance under control”.
Democracy International is the global coalition of democracy activists who demand binding and obligatory referenda initiated by citizens within the nation states, in Europe and in the world. “In our advocacy work Switzerland is a shining example of citizens having a direct influence on political affairs. Yesterday’s decision by the people to curb the salaries of top bankers proves once again the power of direct democracy. Any citizen of the world must have the right to direct democracy”, demands Gerald Häfner on behalf of Democracy International.
Yesterday’s referendum was initiated by Swiss businessman Thomas Minder, who had launched the initiative “Gegen die Abzockerei” (against financial rip-off) in 2005. He subsequently collected 100 000 signatures, which is the necessary amount in Switzerland to submit a proposal to the public. The initiative was put to the vote yesterday. All 26 cantons of Switzerland voted in favour.
The overall vote of 67,9 per cent approving the proposal is the third highest result a citizen initiative has ever achieved in the history of Switzerland’s direct democracy: In 1921, 71 per cent voted in favour of transforming the referendum law; in 1993, 84 per cent of Switzerland’s eligible citizens had opted for introducing a day off work on Switzerland’s national holiday
The Swiss government now has one year to convert the proposal approved by the citizens into legislation.
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