Swiss voters have decisively rejected a radical proposal that would have made it illegal for companies to pay any of their staff more than 12 times the wage of their lowest earner.

Executive pay has been a hotly debated topic in Switzerland in recent months, with the country voting in March to ban golden hellos and golden goodbyes, amid popular and political outrage over revelations that Novartis planned to pay its outgoing chairman, Daniel Vasella, SFr72m ($79.4m) as part of a non-compete agreement.