Switzerland is known as a country of direct democracy since voting on referendums is practiced quite often, as happened on Sunday when voters accepted the government's pension reform albeit by a narrow margin.
The reform plan raises the retirement age for women from 64 to 65, bringing it in line with the age for men. An invitation to vote on imposing stricter regulations in farming failed to garner majority support.
According to Swiss government figures, the pension system changes had won by 50.57% of the vote, with counting having been finalized in all cantons.
Switzerland's government attempted to introduce similar reform plans in 2004 and 2007, both of which failed when put to a vote.
Opponents of the plan, including trade unions and left-leaning political parties, argued that women face significant discrimination and are less well paid on average, meaning they receive smaller pensions than men.
According to Switzerland's Economy Ministry, women received on average nearly 35% smaller pensions than men in 2020.
Polls ahead of the vote indicated that 70% of men were in favor of the reform, compared with only 42% of women. Early projections on Sunday showed that a majority of voters in the German-speaking part of Switzerland supported the reform, while the French-speaking west largely voted against it.
A separate vote on increasing funding for the reform through a rise in the sales tax received over 55% support.
However the proposal to impose restrictions on livestock farming was not supported by a majority of voters, with slightly more than 37% of the population voting in favor.
The Swiss government had opposed the proposal, arguing it would drive up prices and saying Switzerland already had strict animal welfare laws. It also said it could cause issues with trade partners around imports of animal products.
The proposal, backed by animal rights and environmentalist organizations, was aimed at ending intensive breeding that keeps livestock confined in tight spaces. with lights on 24 hours plus constant feeding.
Polls showed that the proposal initially received positive support, which later petered out, in part due to opposition from livestock owners.
Supporters of the initiative said they were happy the debate around the issue managed to raise awareness.
For us, it is in any case a victory, Vera Weber, head of the environmentalist Franz Weber Foundation that championed the proposal, told Swiss broadcasters. All of Switzerland has discussed the problems linked to intensive livestock farming and our meat consumption.
Switzerland as the world's most famous practitioner of direct democracy, typically holds four rounds of referendums on a host of issues each calendar year. More major changes, such as changing the constitution or joining a supranational organization, must pass a public vote before they can become law.