Reuters reports that the upper house of Swiss Parliament has blocked a national referendum aimed at preventing the Swiss central bank from selling its gold reserves, and also requiring it to keep 20% of its assets in gold.
Swiss Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumph testified before the upper house, known as the Council of States, that this would effectively make 20% of the Swiss National Bank’s assets worthless (since they could not be sold or used as collateral), hampering its ability to conduct monetary policy. The Swiss government and the chairman of the central bank has also expressed opposition to the referendum
The “Save Our Swiss Gold” initiative was started by the conservative populist Swiss People’s Party (SVP). The SVP is the largest of 11 parties in the National Council (the lower house of parliament), where it holds 54 of the 200 seats.
The SVP was successful in getting 100,000 valid signatures in its petition drive to force a national referendum, but Swiss law requires both houses of the Federal Assembly must approve the measure before it is put to a national vote.