Voters in Switzerland have overwhelmingly rejected a reform of the occupational pension scheme in a major upset for the government.
Nearly 73 per cent dismissed a cut in pension benefits – something which parliament had backed last year.
However, trade unions and centre-left parties challenged the proposal and put it to a referendum.
In a second ballot, the Swiss also threw out a plan to appoint special lawyers to defend the rights of animals. Backed by animal rights organisations, Switzerland would have been the first to have a mandatory legal role. But, for now, it only exists in Zurich.
Antoine F. Goetschel, an animal attorney in Zurich, said:
“We have a strong animal welfare law which has been revised recently with a lot of details that were also being discussed worldwide and it might be that the population in Switzerland said – let’s wait until we know how far this new legislation will be applied in Switzerland.”
But in a separate and third vote, a constitutional amendment on human research was adopted. The move aims to set the basis for more detailed legislation at canton level on transplants and gene and stem cell technology.