you're reading...

What’s behind the anti-immigrant vote in Switzerland?


Since the Swiss / EU agreement on the free movement of people, a sense of unease has been growing in Switzerland, fuelled by the crisis and exacerbated by the demagoguery of the extreme nationalist right.

The success of the anti-immigration initiative of the far-right Swiss People’s Party, led by billionaire Christoph Blocher, represents a political and diplomatic earthquake in Switzerland. It is mainly a failure of representative bodies of the country : all other political forces avoided this issue, which appears to be a back door way of rejecting bilateral relations between Switzerland and the European Union ( EU). The fear is that it opens a period of uncertainty, politically and economically, damaging the country. The initiative of populist nationalist Swiss People’s Party doesn’t come out of nowhere, however.

Since 2002 and the entry into force of the free movement deal, a feeling of unease has been growing in population, especially in its border cantons ( such as in Ticino and Geneva where more than one hundred thousand work near the border). The crisis of 2008 helped advance nationalist political forces in these regions, allowing them to enter parliament and the cantonal governments (the Lega in Ticino, the Citizens’ Movement in Geneva … ) .

As for the Swiss People’s party – now a master in the use of direct democracy – it was helped by the culpable inertia of the government and Parliament: they “forgot” accompanying measures – to avoid a downward spiral in wages and other social aspects – that they promise workers in 2002 as a necessary complement to the free movement of labour. At the same time, nearly 70,000 non-Swiss Europeans, above all from Germany and Italy, settled in Switzerland every year. There was certainly a need for foreign labour while the economy was growing (1 % annual growth with unemployment at 3%). But with purchasing power falling for a number of years, and the shortage and high cost of housing, overwhelmed public transport, etc. . people were affected in their daily lives.

If you add a sense of loss of sovereignty and a scapegoat – the immigrant – courtesy of the Swiss People’s party, this can lead to a situation where, according to a political observer, a “country shoots itself in the foot ” …

Translation by Revolting Europe

About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or email [email protected]


2 thoughts on “What’s behind the anti-immigrant vote in Switzerland?

  1. We heard that Swiss banks were mad because most of the immigrant movement came with high-skilled labor and citizens in Switzerland did not want so many higher paying jobs going to immigrant labor. I think this is a labor issue as well as being a right-wing nationalist issue. TPP is designed to flood all labor markets with immigrant labor just for the reason of ending labor laws and diluting wages for first world countries. So, it surprises me that a union writer would make this a right wing situation that hurts the country. People do not dislike immigrants…..it is just a neo-liberal policy to undermine labor and justice to flood labor markets with immigrants who are then exploited.

    Posted by Cindy Walsh | February 12, 2014, 6:12 pm


  1. Pingback: What’s behind the anti-immigrant vote in Switzerland? | Left Futures - February 13, 2014

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Twitter Updates

  • A Week in Revolting Europe paper.li/tomgilltweets/… #politics #austerity #banks #unemployment #poverty #inequality #troika #protest 2 days ago
  • Good indicator of how the crisis is hitting the 1%: Ferrari nets 246 million euros in 2013 profit. ansa.it/web/notizie/ru… 2 days ago
  • Italy cannot afford the Concordat with the Catholic Church | Revolting Europe wp.me/p1bMfw-1ZB 2 days ago
  • RT @EuroParlPress: Press release: #Right2Water urges privatisation ban in first EU Citizens’ Initiative debate: europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-r… 5 days ago
  • RT @netizenrights: What are you hiding? The opacity of the EU-US trade talks corporateeurope.org/trade/2014/02/… via @corporateeurope #transparency #TTIP 5 days ago
  • RT @olivierhoedeman: .@EU_Commission heavily censored minutes of #TTIP meetings with industry #lobbyists; even lobbyists' names removed! ht… 5 days ago
  • RT @dropthedebt: Irish govt accepts Irish ppl 'robbed' over bank debts. But claims 'softly softly' approach cd get some of €64bn back http:… 5 days ago
  • Why deregulated labour market don't create jobs: case of Spain wp.me/p1bMfw-1Zu 1 week ago
  • A Week in Revolting Europe | paper.li/tomgilltweets/… #politics #austerity #banks #unemployment #poverty #inequality #protest #troika 1 week ago
  • Renzi’s Haste, and the Crisis of Politics (in Italy) | Andrea Bianchi| Revolting Europe wp.me/p1bMfw-1Zn 1 week ago
Follow @tomgilltweets

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Anti-social Europe in numbers


Key facts and figures on wages across the EU

Wealth Inequality in Europe

Get the key facts and figures


A different take on European issues

Italy’s Healthcare Crisis

Health services are ‘close to collapse’ in Rome, Turin and Naples after years of cuts and privatisation.


99% of the 167 000 Madrilenos who signed a petition rejected the sell off local water company

Filthy Rich

France's Bernard Arnault of the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) empire is worth $41 billion. Check out Europe's rich list


Private banks receive half-trillion-euro gift from ECB


Workers and citizens stand up for themselves


Workers are on a go-slow over privatisation

Massive Spanish protest

Half a million take to the streets over labour market deregulation


Hundreds of workers occupied the factory of ArcelorMittal in Florange in the north of France

International Workers Day

International Workers Day 2012

RSS Watching Corporate Europe

  • What are you hiding? The opacity of the EU-US trade talks
  • Punishing the victims - a beginner's guide to the EU and the crisis
  • ALTER-EU asks MEP candidates to 'stand-up' against excessive lobbying by big business

RSS Hate Crimes in Europe

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Fight discrimination in Europe – Amnesty Int’l

  • Listen to Roma Rights
  • Russia: Legacy of Olympic Games tarnished by arrests


in Italy the home is a very dangerous place to be


Workers down tools over PM Monti's attack on labour rights


Concentration camps and a massive migrant marine cemetery





Read the statement by Lafontaine and Melenchon

PM Rajoy One Year On

Spaniards are not impressed








The Dossier