They shuddered, but finally passed. Bourgeois parties, the Federal Council, Minister Alain Berset and the economic circles experienced a rather unexpected suspense this Sunday in the popular vote in the AVS, before crossing the trap of a few hairs. By 50.6% of votes, the Swiss approved the AVS 21 bill and raising the retirement age for women from 64 to 65. The other increase, that of VAT from 7.7 to 8.1%, is being done more easily with 55.1% of the votes and 18 cantons. Research institutes, especially gfs.bern, announced a clearer victory. Did not happen. This classic of federal politics has delivered on all its promises. And the gap between the anti-reform Latinos and the Germans is widening sharply.
A wall crumbles. Since 1995, people no longer agreed to raise the starting age for women. Just five years ago, he again opposed the end of the inadmissibility of the 2020 pension reform, supported by the left.
Today, a change of scenery, the Greens and the Socialist Party were fighting against the AVS 21. In front of them, a bourgeois wall (The Center, the Green Liberals, the Radical Liberals, the UDC), the great economic organizations and the Federal Council , with the socialist minister Alain Berset against his own political family.
Read too: The AVS reform divided Alain Berset between the Federal Council and his party
Proponents praise the ‘balance’ of the project
Largely mostly on paper, this front has succeeded where others have failed in the last quarter century. Its representatives readily attribute this to the “balance” of the package put to the vote and the fact that AVS’s finances are still struggling more under the effect of an aging population. Women aged 55 and over when the reform takes effect will receive pension supplements, low for high earners, and up to 160 francs a month for those earning less than 57,360 francs a year. AVS 21 also leads to some flexibility in retirement.
And, unlike the aborted Pension Provision 2020 reform, the sovereign only spoke about the first pillar of the pension system, not both. “The mixture of the two pillars led, among other things, to failure in 2017”, estimates Marie-France Roth Pasquier, vice president of the Center and national adviser (FR). “The first pillar, the AVS, is solidary and for the benefit of women. Which is less the case of the second. By separating the two components, we brought more clarity to the minds of the population.” The financial reality also weighed on the decision. “The Swiss have assumed their responsibilities to guarantee our pensions, for our children and future generations.”
The business circles show an equally happy expression. Director of Economiesuisse, Monika Rühl thinks that “the citizens understood that it was finally necessary to reform the AVS, which had failed for a quarter of a century. Demographic pressure is increasing and we want young people to be able to benefit from this social security too.” The manager believes in the concrete advantages of the accepted project. “AVS 21 not only offers equal treatment for women and men of retirement age, but also greater flexibility, which meets a population need. In addition, women of the transition generation will receive generous and lifetime compensation. Overall, this package is positive, more generous and targeted than the 2020 pension reform we turned down in 2017.
Our writing: AVS 21, a feminist yeah
A yes against women and Latinos
Needless to say, the left has a categorically different opinion. “With this tight vote, it’s a yes against women, against francophone Switzerland and against Ticino. We must stop designing projects that divide us”, irritates Flavia Wasserfallen, National Socialist Councilor (BE). His Waldensian colleague Pierre-Yves Maillard identifies a “triple divide”: linguistic, gender and social, “with a bigger yes when the income level rises. We must not allow ourselves to do that in times of crisis.”
It is clear, however, that the state of AVS’s finances worried a good part of the population. “I realized during the campaign that there were big concerns about this. Everyone wants AVS to do well,” says Flavia Wasserfallen. The left advocated other sources of income, such as higher employee contributions or the Swiss National Bank’s reserves.
Face to face: AVS21: Johanna Gapany and Léonore Porchet Cross Swords Over Equality
She will now be able to wield this ultra-tight result in the “parent” files to come. Passing the 65-year mark, as desired by the right, seems at least compromised. “We can forget”, slices the Bernese. Furthermore, the ongoing reform of the second pension pillar, the occupational pension (LPP), is likely to be marked by Sunday’s vote. The left is waiting here for the bourgeois camp to abandon its toughest plans and lean on the version of the social partners and the Federal Council. She also does not forget other battles, such as wage inequality, low income in “typically female” sectors (retail trade, health) or external daycare centers. The next women’s strike, announced Sunday night by Socialist Women, will be lively.
Read too: AVS21, unequal in the face of retirement and death