Swiss "Fat Cats" Clobbered As 70% Just Say Non/Nein/No To Excessive Executive Pay
A few days ago, to the surprise of many, the European Parliament voted through substantial curbs on banker pay, limiting bonuses to twice the annual salary (we have yet to see the list of pre-existing loopholes, which we are confident will be wide enough for Arnold's hummer to pass through). Today, in a less surprising, although perhaps more notable development, more than two-thirds of the Swiss people voted through a proposal to curb "fat cat-ism" in Switzerland, and impose strict controls on executive pay, including compensation vetos and payout bans.
The development is notable, because unlike other insolvent nations, Switzerland is actually one of the most affluent sovereigns in the world, and class warfare is hardly as much an issue as it is in the US. The fact that Swiss society is as polarized as it was confirmed to be this morning, shows just how deep the rich vs, well, non-rich tensions truly lie, even in the most wealthy of societies. One can then imagine how close to snapping they are in other less well-off places, read most countries, in the world.
Swiss voters appear to have backed proposals to impose some of the world's strictest controls on executive pay, projected referendum results suggest.
Some 70% are thought to have supported plans to give shareholders a veto on compensation and ban big payouts for new and departing managers.
Business groups argued the proposals would damage Swiss competitiveness.
But analysts say ordinary Swiss are concerned about a growing economic divide in the country.
The vote comes just days after the EU approved measures to cap bankers bonuses.
Official first results from Geneva, where polling ended at noon (11:00 GMT), showed 67.7% voted in favour of the initiative.
Projections by polling institute Gfs.Bern for Swiss state television, based on early results, showed 70% backing the proposals across the country.
The BBC's Imogen Foulkes, in Berne, says multibillion dollar losses by Swiss banking giant UBS, and thousands of redundancies at pharmaceutical company Novartis, have caused anger in Switzerland - because high salaries and bonuses for managers continued unchanged.
The new measures will give Switzerland some of the world's strictest corporate rules, our correspondent adds.
Shareholders will have a veto over salaries, golden handshakes will be forbidden, and managers of companies who flout the rules could face prison.
The "fat cat initiative", as it has been called, will be written into the Swiss constitution and apply to all Swiss companies listed on Switzerland's stock exchange.
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One of the organisers of the referendum, Brigitte Moser Harder, told the BBC she thought the Swiss people agreed with the proposals because the gap between rich and poor had become wider.
"From the beginning, 2006, we had the support of the people of Switzerland because you know not everybody in Switzerland is rich.
"It's also a social problem because the high wages got higher and the small ones sometimes just got lower. I think people have the support of the Swiss people because of that."
Meanwhile in the country in which the rich-poor gap is the widest it has ever been, there is not a single solitary voice of activism seeking to impose the same curbs on ridiculous executive compensation which has ballooned out of any proportion and can best be summarized by inforgraphics such as this: