echo interview with Member of the Council of States Hans Stöckli, Social Democratic Party Bern, and National Councillor Ruth Humbel, Die Mitte Party, Aargau
elipsLife echo: Old-age provisioning has long been at the top of the public's so-called worry barometer, currently only overtaken by COVID-19. The Council of States has nevertheless shelved any debate around reforming the AHV pension system. Mr. Stöckli, aren’t you taking voters’ concerns seriously?
Hans Stöckli: It’s precisely because we take these concerns very seriously, that we’re looking for a solution that would attract a majority. Another failure of a bill concerning a reform of the AHV or the BVG Pension Fund Law would make the situation even worse. Opponents of the AV2020 pension reform bill in 2017 claimed that a revised AHV reform bill would pass easily. But it quickly became apparent that the devil was in the detail.
Ruth Humbel: Hans Stöckli and I fought for the AV2020 bill in 2017. At that time, the reference retirement age of 65 for both sexes and the compensatory measures - especially for women with lower incomes - played a significant role. If all members of the Council of States had bothered to delve into the "old" files, no new reports and calculations would’ve been necessary. Updating the AV2020 documents and supplementing them with the new elements of the supplementary financing via the tax reform and AHV financing (STAF)* would’ve sufficed to get the new AHV bill off the ground.
Stöckli: But I still regret we didn’t get the bill through back then. In many respects today, we’re almost back where we were. That said, new approaches have since then also emerged, especially on the compensation front. But for our part, we’ll never agree to increasing the retirement age for women without granting substantial compensatory measures.
Stöckli: With the exception of the AV2020 proposal, the Left has always had the people behind it on provisioning issues. Moreover, different reasons have been put forward for the failure of the AV2020 initiative. Some see the surcharge of 70 francs as the deciding factor and others the proposal to raise women's retirement age. We’d therefore be well advised to revisit these issues and try to seek solid majorities.
Humbel: The big problem with the AV2020 proposal was the fundamental opposition from the SVP and FDP as well as the referendum from the hard Left.
Stöckli: Yes, that's right. To put it diplomatically, the Jusos weren’t much help to us with their referendum. In the STAF referendum however, we managed to gain a majority. That said, when it comes to raising the retirement age for women, there’s a hard core on the Left today that won’t go along with this under any circumstances.