First projections show that Swiss voters have rejected the introduction of an unconditional basic income by 78 per cent to 22 per cent, pollsters gfs.bern institute said on Sunday.
The world's first such vote was aimed at guaranteeing every adult a minimum monthly income of 2,500 Swiss francs (2,535 dollars). Every child would get 625 francs. At the same time, it would foresee scrapping jobless, social and pension payments.
The initiators of the referendum still hailed the 22-per-cent vote as a "sensational success," saying it was "significantly more that we expected," according to spokesman Daniel Haeni.
"It means the debate goes on, and also internationally," Haeni said.
The main reason the proposal was rejected was a lack of clarity and doubts about how it would be financed, gfs.bern head Claude Longchamp told SRF television.
The progressives who launched the initiative said basic income would be a necessary reaction to the current digital revolution, which has resulted in fewer jobs.
The Swiss government was opposed to the concept, arguing that austerity measures or tax hikes would have been necessary to finance it.
The government also worried that the basic income would attract many migrants.
Left-wing parties in Germany and the anti-globalist Five Star Movement in Italy have also been advocating the basic income concept.
Switzerland also held separate referenda on speeding up asylum procedures, which gfs.bern projected would pass with 66 per cent in favour, and on obliging state-owned enterprises like the national railways to focus on public service rather than profits, which seems to have been rejected.