//
you're reading...
Politics

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

IN THE RADICAL PRESS / HUMANITE

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 @revoltingeurope

Discussion

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

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  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

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

DATA

Anti-social Europe in numbers

WAGES SLIDE

Key facts and figures on wages across the EU

Wealth Inequality in Europe

Get the key facts and figures

RADICAL VOICES

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.

550 days, 29 Workers, Zero Job Losses

How a few determined Italian women stopped their factory closing and protected their livelihoods

Filthy Rich

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

SANTA DRAGHI’S COMING

Private banks receive half-trillion-euro gift from ECB

POPULAR FIGHTBACK

Workers and citizens stand up for themselves

FLORENCE’S BUS LUMACA

Workers are on a go-slow over privatisation

Popular resistance delivers results

Lessons from the victory against Madrid privatisation plan

FRENCH FACTORY OCCUPATION

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

RSS Fight discrimination in Europe – Amnesty Int’l

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

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

in Italy the home is a very dangerous place to be

LABOUR RIGHTS

Follow Revolting Europe on WordPress.com

Subjects

EUROPE NEEDS A CITIZENS’ REVOLUTION

Read the statement by Lafontaine and Melenchon

The Troika in Portugal – Three Years On

A success story?

THE EURO

The Dossier

FRANCE

GERMANY

GREECE

ITALY

PORTUGAL

SPAIN