ZURICH: A vote setting Swiss companies up for higher scrutiny over human rights and environmental abuses looked set to fail on Sunday, according to early counts, despite backing from nearly half the population in the historically divisive vote.
In a referendum on Sunday, voters are choosing between proposals by the Responsible Business Initiative to extend companies' liability over human rights abuses and environmental harm caused abroad, and a milder government version.
The government proposal would force firms to step up checks on their overseas operations and supply chains, but stops short of extending liability to Swiss courts.
In unusual support for a politically and economically progressive initiative in the traditionally staid country, just under 50per cent of voters accepted the Responsible Business Initiative's proposals, according to government interim voting results.
But regional results showed the initiative was no longer able to gain backing in a majority of cantons, a necessary condition for a public initiative to be enacted in Switzerland.
(Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Jan Harvey)