UPDATE: 12:00 p.m. ET: It appears the vote will fail.

Story by the Associated Press; curated by Zach Noble.

The idea of creating the world’s highest minimum wage was criticized by government and business leaders as likely to drive Switzerland’s high costs even higher.

The Federal Council was expected to hold a news conference shortly to announce official results.

 

GENEVA (AP) — Swiss polls have opened for voting on a nationwide referendum to introduce the world’s highest minimum wage of 22 Swiss francs ($24.70) an hour.

A woman casts her ballot during a referendum on May 18, 2014 in Bulle, western Switzerland. Swiss voters are to decide in a referendum on May 18 whether to bring in the world’s highest minimum wage, offering each and every worker at least 25 dollars an hour. The Swiss will also be voting on a multi-billion-dollar deal to buy fighter jets from Sweden, and are almost certain to back measures to ban paedophiles from working with children. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

Voters also cast ballots Sunday on three other citizen-inspired referendums. Switzerland’s unique system of popular rule involves a weak federal government, 26 strong state governments and regular national referendums on issues.

The other referendums, if passed, would provide the Swiss Air Force with 22 of Saab’s new Gripen fighter jets; impose a lifetime ban on convicted pedophiles working with children; and amend the constitution to support more family doctors in rural areas.

Trade unions back the wage proposal. Surveys indicate that most voters side with government and business leaders, who argue it would cost jobs and economic competitiveness.

 

Switzerland currently has no minimum wage.

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