Swiss voters appear to have rejected a proposal to limit the pay of companies' highest-paid managers to at most 12 times that of their lowest-paid workers.
Claude Longchamp, the head of polling group gfs.bern, told Swiss television that a projection based on early counting showed the plan failing by 65% to 35%.
David Roth, the leader of the proposal's young socialist backers, said: "We lost today."
The referendum came after voters in March voiced anger at perceived corporate greed by voting to boost shareholders' say on executive pay and ban bonuses known as "golden hellos" and "goodbyes".
Backers of the new "1:12 initiative" argued that imposing a legal limit on salaries would ensure greater fairness in the prosperous country. But Swiss business argued it would weaken the nation's competitiveness.