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Following Big Money Sweep, Swiss Bid Against Income Inequality Voted Down

Common Dreams staff

Following a flood of corporate cash in a campaign against a Swiss referendum that would have limited CEO pay in the country, the referendum, which had gained international attention for its critique of vast income inequality, was voted down on Sunday.

The "1:12 Initiative for Fair Play" would have limited the income of high earning CEOs to no more than 12 times more than the lowest-paid employees at their companies.

The group who spearheaded the initiative, the youth wing of Switzerland's Socialist Party (JUSO), had gained mass support in the early part of their campaign until big money donations to the 'no' vote camp started pouring in, toppling 'yes' vote spending by up to 50 times the amount.

The rush of money worked. 65% voted against the referendum Sunday, as opposed to the 46% who were against it from the start, according to estimates by Gfs.bern, a Swiss polling firm.

However, "Although the referendum was defeated," The New York Times reports, "voter dismay at the behavior of some Swiss corporations and executives is widespread."

The Times reports:

Proponents of the initiative complained that companies like the Swiss banking giant UBS, which received a government bailout because of the financial crisis, continued to pay huge executive bonuses even when they performed poorly.

Supporters of the 1:12 initiative conceded defeat Sunday but said they had succeeded in raising public awareness about the issue.

“In the future, C.E.O.'s and boards of directors are going to have to think very carefully about how they justify multimillion-franc compensation,” the Swiss Social Democratic Party, which had supported the initiative, said.


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