Swiss voters back raising the female retirement age to 65

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By Euronews
Ballot box in Switzerland's referendum
Ballot box in Switzerland's referendum   -   Copyright  AP Photo

The Swiss have voted by an extremely narrow margin In a referendum to raise the retirement age for women from 64 to 65. 

The result of Sunday's vote paves the way for the country's first pension reform in 25 years and is intended to stabilise the national pension situation at least for the next few years. 

A small majority of those who voted — 50.6% — backed the change. The left, trade unions and women's associations had rejected the increase, arguing that the state should focus first on equalising wage earnings between men and women.

"It is above all a defeat for those women who work hard, have a small wage and cannot decide for themselves when to retire," said Barbara Gysi, a National Councillor from the Social Democratic Party.

Much like in other western nations, Switzerland is under stress as a bulge of baby boomers reach retirement age. This is the main factor for the change, according to Interior Minister Alain Berset.

"At least we have succeeded in reforming pensions after 25 years and thus stabilising its finances. This step was really necessary, it allows us to cope with demographic change in the coming years," he said.

In Switzerland this is an emotive issue. Protest rallies have been held in some cities — motivated by the pensions equalisation, but also the gender wage gap, which stands at 43%.