Swiss voters have rejected the proposal to stop investors from financing producers of arms used in conflicts in a referendum held last week.

The initiative, led by the younger faction of the Swiss Green Party, the Young Greens, and the group Switzerland without arms (GSoA) proposed to stop financing the production of all military equipment including assault rifles, tanks and anti-aircraft systems under the article 107a of the Constitution.

It would have to be enforced on the Swiss National Bank (SNB), foundations, the first pillar AHV/IV and 1,562 pension funds.

Companies generating over 5% of their annual turnover through the manufacturing of war material were considered arms producers and hence included in the ban. This also included firms manufacturing products for civilian use alongside arms used in conflict.

The financing ban included loans, holding of equities or investment in vehicles such as funds that own stocks in arms producing companies.

The initiative received 1.08 million votes in favour, or 42.55% of the total tally, and 1.46 million or 57.45% voted against it, according to the figures released by the Federal Chancellery.

The majority of the public voted in favour of the proposal in the city of Basel, and in the cantons of Neuenburg, Geneva and Jura. In all the other cantons, the majority voted against the ban.

The initiative underlined that a number of Swiss pension funds already exclude investments in the arms industry but still achieve returns. For example, the Pensionskasse of the city of Zurich decided to exclude nuclear weapons and cluster munitions producers from its portfolio, it said.

Commenting on the result of the vote, the head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Guy Parmelin, said the existing financing ban already fulfils the goals proposed by the political parties’ initiative.

He added: “The initiative would have not led to avoid wars but to put pressure on pension schemes and the Swiss economy.”

The Federal Council and the parliament had already rejected the initiative and recommended to vote against it in the referendum.

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