Switzerland has become the first country in the world to hold a nationwide vote on introducing an unconditional basic income. Despite a spectacular pro campaign, there was no hope of it winning a majority.
Official final results show the proposal winning 23.1% of the vote and all the country's 26 cantons coming out against.
Only some communes or urban districts in cantons Zurich, Bern, Geneva as well as Vaud and Jura came out in favour.
"The campaigners failed to present a convincing funding scheme for their proposal. But they managed to launch a broad debate about an unconditional basic income," says senior political scientist Claude Longchamp.
The promoters – a group of humanists, artists and entrepreneurs – have admitted defeat but they have pledged to continue their campaign.
"There is a genuine interest in the issue as numerous public discussions have shown," says Oswald Sigg of the initiative committee.
In comparison, an initiative aimed at a fundamental overhaul of the consumer tax system won just 8% approval in a nationwide vote last year - the worst ballot box defeat since 1971. And a highly controversial proposal by a pacifist group to abolish Switzerland’s armed forces had the backing of 35.6% of voters in 1989.
In 2014, an initiative calling for a minimum monthly income of CHF4,000 was rejected by 76.3% of voters.
Interior Minister Alain Berset said the clear outcome of the latest ballot was a public endorsement of the existing social security system in Switzerland.
"Our welfare system has been tried and tested over the years and there is no need for a revolution," he told a news conference.
He added that the government was aware of need to adapt the system and the challenges of a further industrial development, notably the threats for workers in an age of robotisation.
Value of work
The campaigners believe an unconditional basic income would allow all residents to live in dignity, as the money would help cover essential needs and they would be free to choose a more creative way of living.
The proposal aimed at reforming the cumbersome existing social security systems, boosting volunteer work and softening the impact of social disruption caused by technological change.
The promoters have set no specific amount for a basic income, but they have mentioned a monthly figure of CHF2,500 ($2,510) per adult and CHF625 for minors.
This is slightly higher than the current maximum monthly state old age pension allowance and corresponds to what is considered the breadline in Switzerland....MORE, inluding canton-by-canton results.