Skip to content

The Results of the Basic Income Referendum in Switzerland

Scott Santens
Scott Santens
5 min read
The Results of the Basic Income Referendum in Switzerland
Official Result: 23.1% of Swiss voters voted YES on unconditional basic income

Today is the day Switzerland voted on the idea of an unconditional basic income. It is a first. It is historic. It is direct democracy in action.

As I write this here from inside the campaign headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, the polls are still open and people are still voting, but as soon as they close, I will publish this and update it throughout the day with results as they come in and also the results of a representative survey that questioned Swiss voters in detail about how they feel about basic income now.

For those who wish to follow what’s going on throughout the day on video, here is the livestream. Yes, it’s in German. No, there is not an alternate version where they’re all speaking English.

First, I want to say that it is not at all expected for basic income to pass here today, however anything over 20% is a big deal. Anything over 30% is a HUGE deal. And anything over 40% would absolutely blow everyone’s mind. I put my money on 41% because someone has to be the crazy optimistic one, right?

Results of Representative Survey of Swiss Voters

We dove through all the data last night, which you can now do as well, and here are the seven main points we discovered.

1. The debate has now just begun

  • 69% of all voters believe they will be voting on another basic income referendum in the future.
  • 83% of YES-Voters believe there will be another referendum.
  • 63% of NO-Voters believe there will be another referendum.

The question about basic income as the social policy of the future is now on the table. Seven out of ten Swiss citizens believe there will be another referendum for it, and even a large majority of those who voted no agree.

2. Basic Income is the answer to automation

  • 72% believe that many traditional types of work will become redundant and that basic income is needed to attain new lifestyle models.

The Swiss believe the strongest argument for basic income is the changing nature of work due to advancing technologies and that new lifestyle models are consequently needed. The other biggest reasons were

3. Millennials: Generation Basic Income is real

  • Of the young voters (18–29 years old) 41% imagine basic income will be introduced in the years ahead.
  • 78% think that questions concerning UBI have to be discussed and UBI is a case to be made.
  • Eight out of ten voters under 39 see this first vote as just the beginning.

The youngest generation sees the greatest need for basic income and they are optimistic it will happen sooner rather than later.

4. The entire political establishment was wrong

  • In every single party in Switzerland a greater percentage of people within that party believe basic income is on the agenda instead of off it.
  • Basic income in Switzerland is more than just a proposal. It’s a movement.

Establishment politics considered basic income as not even in the same room let alone on the table. Their Parliament practically laughed at it, but it turns out basic income is most certainly up for serious discussion.

5. Basic income will value and encourage unpaid work

  • 49% see a basic income as valuing and encouraging unpaid household and volunteer work.

Half of Switzerland sees basic income as a way to finally recognize all the unpaid and unrecognized work that is going on outside of employment.

6. Women support basic income

  • 64% of women see a NO vote for basic income as only just the beginning.
  • More women than men support the concept of UBI, but women are less sure it will be introduced in the coming years.

Women feel more strongly than men that the discussion about basic income is just beginning, but are also less confident it will actually happen.

7. Switzerland wants to test UBI

  • 77% of the Swiss want to test UBI in local municipalities versus 14% who would prefer it be tested elsewhere.

Innovative Switzerland wants to be a country that leads the way on basic income. It does not want to wait for anyone else to first show the way.

On this last point, I just want to stress how personally frustrating it is for me to see those in the US having the opposite opinion. The United States should have this mentality as well. It used to. We used to want to be the first to do great things. Now we say things like, “Let Switzerland do it. Let Finland do it. Let Canada do it. And then maybe we’ll do it if it works.” Switzerland however appears to want to be the leader the US once was and be seen as a global innovator.

Live Results

12:40 PM: The general guess right now is around 25% voted yes. A better number will be available at 1PM in about 20 minutes…

1:26 PM: Estimates now show that perhaps 22% of Switzerland voted YES. 34% of Basel looks to have voted YES, as has 33% of Lausanne. The first fully counted canton is also in, and that was 18% in Glarus.

3:46 PM: Best estimates still show 22% total support across all of Switzerland.

4:44 PM: Highest amount of support in one place is 36% in Basel-Stadt followed by 35.8% in Jura and 34.7% in Genf. Lowest support was 12.6% in Appenzell Innerrhoden.

4:50 PM: Final number is 23.1% of Swiss voters voted YES.

Special thanks to Arjun Banker, Steven Grimm, Larry Cohen, Topher Hunt, Aaron Marcus-Kubitza, Andrew Stern, Patrick, Stephane Boisvert, Albert Wenger, Richard Just, Chris Smothers, Joel Leoj, Jeff Marshall, Mark Witham, Gisele Huff, Lainie Petersen, Skye MacLeod, Vladimir Baranov, Victor Vurpillat, Catherine MacDonald, David Ihnen, Danielle Texeira, Katie Doemland, Paul Wicks, Jan Smole, Joe Esposito, Jack Wagner, Joe Ballou, Stuart Matthews, Natalie Foster, Chris McCoy, Michael Honey, Gary Aranovich, Kai Wong, John David Hodge, Louise Whitmore, Dan O’Sullivan, Harish Venkatesan, Michiel Dral, Gerald Huff, Susanne Berg, Cameron Ottens, Kian Alavi, Gray Scott, Andreas, Kevin Baker, Lawrence W, Lee, Kirk Israel, Robert Solovay, Jeff Schulman, Andrew Henderson, Robert F. Greene, Martin Jordo, Victor Lau, Shane Gordon, Paolo Narciso, Johan Grahn, Tony DeStefano, Erhan Altay, Bryan Herdliska, Dave Shelton, Rise & Shine PAC, Luke Sampson, Lee Irving, Kris Roadruck, Amy Shaffer, Thomas Welsh, Olli Niinimäki, Casey Young, Elizabeth Balcar, Masud Shah, Allen Bauer, all my other funders for their support, and my amazing partner, Katie Smith.

Would you like to see your name here too?

Silvrback blog image sb_float

Did you enjoy reading this? Please click the subscribe button and also consider making a monthly pledge in support of my daily advocacy of basic income for all.

Silvrback blog image sb_float_center

Scott Santens Twitter

Unconditional/Universal Basic Income (UBI) advocate with a crowdfunded basic income; Founder and President of ITSA Foundation, Author of Let There Be Money; Editor of

Related Posts

Members Public

There is No Policy Proposal by Any 2020 Presidential Candidate More Progressive than Andrew Yang’s Freedom Dividend

Primary season has begun and as Trump marches toward a possible second term, a list of Democrats over 20-candidates-long is vying for the honor of being the one who prevents that from happening. One of those candidates, Andrew Yang [], has proposed a universal basic income [http:

There is No Policy Proposal by Any 2020 Presidential Candidate More Progressive than Andrew Yang’s Freedom Dividend
Members Public

‘Universal Basic Income Doesn’t Work’ Says New Prime Example of Fake News

Or How to Spot Disinformation in a World of Propaganda In April 2019, a report titled “Universal Basic Income: A Union Perspective [] ” was paid for and published by Public Services International (PSI), a global trade

‘Universal Basic Income Doesn’t Work’ Says New Prime Example of Fake News
Members Public

Think Like a Martian About Money and Universal Basic Income (UBI)

My Keynote Speech at Imagine Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics Also available in Italian, Spanish, and Korean Think like a Martian… That’s a lesson I learned years ago from a theoretical physicist named Richard Feynman. I never met him, but he was one of my teachers as a

Think Like a Martian About Money and Universal Basic Income (UBI)