Switzerland. According to CountryAAH, Bern is the capital city of Switzerland. Immigrant issues were again at the top of the agenda during this year’s election campaign, which became unusually fierce and loud. The xenophobic Swiss People’s Party (SVP) ran an election campaign that a UN reporter described as “racist”. One of several controversial election posters showed three white sheep on a Swiss flag; one of them kicks out a fourth black sheep. The picture symbolized SVP’s demand that foreigners who commit crimes should be expelled along with their families.
Opponents feared that the anti-immigrant sentiment would create fragmentation in the country, where one fifth of the residents lacked citizenship. They warned that Switzerland’s reputation for tolerance and consensus could be damaged. Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin attracted attention when he resembled SVP leader Christoph Blocher – also the country’s justice minister – with Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini.
The tightened tone turned into violence. When SVP members were to train in Bern two weeks before the election, they were attacked by masked left-wing extremists. This led to riots, burning cars and tear gas from the police.
SVP, which was already the largest party, led in the opinion polls and went ahead more than expected when the election was held in October. The party received 29 percent of the vote and seven new seats. The Social Democrats backed down a lot and even the Liberal Democratic Liberal Democratic Party (FDP) lost its mandate, while the fourth, Christian Democratic, Government Party went ahead somewhat.
In December, when Parliament was to nominate the seven ministers in the country’s standing unity government, the members made a bang by petitioning Christoph Blocher and instead electing another SVP member for justice. As a result, the country’s so-called magic formula for distributing ministerial posts for the first time in nearly half a century was shaken.
The world’s longest tunnel on land was formally inaugurated in June, when the 34-kilometer Lötschberg tunnel under the Alps was opened. The railway tunnel cuts the travel time between Germany and Italy from three and a half to just under two hours.
Switzerland weather in March, April and May
Average daily temperatures between 8 ° C and 18 ° C can be expected over the next three months. It gets warmest in May in Geneva, while March is noticeably cooler in Zurich. Temperatures in Zurich are between 8 and 17 ° C and in Geneva between 9 and 18 ° C.
In March it rains on 10 (Geneva) to 12 days (Zurich), in April on 9 (Geneva) to 12 days (Zurich) and in May on 11 (Geneva) to 13 days (Zurich), depending on the region.
In the period from March to May , the sun shines on average between 4 and 6 hours a day. The sunniest weather is in May in Geneva, but with less sun you will have to get by in Zurich in March.
Switzerland’s contemporary history
Switzerland’s contemporary history is the country’s history from the 1990s until today. Since 1992, Switzerland has joined several international bodies, something the country has previously been very restrictive to. However, Switzerland has maintained a strict neutrality policy and is not a member of the EU. The headquarters of a number of international organizations are located in Switzerland, which is a result of the consistent neutrality policy.
In the 2000s, immigration and asylum policies were tightened, and Switzerland has one of the world’s most stringent rules on citizenship. The people of Switzerland benefit from one of the highest living standards in the world.
Membership in international federations
After a majority in a referendum in 1992 agreed to join the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the government also applied for Swiss membership in the EU. As an EFTA country, Switzerland was instrumental in negotiating the European Economic Area Agreement (EEA), a step on the road to full EU membership. When there was a majority vote against ratification of the agreement, the country left the EU membership application aside. It was the German and Italian speakers who had voted no; the majority in the French-speaking cantons voted in favor of the EEA Agreement.
Since 1999, Switzerland and the EU have had a bilateral trade agreement which was later extended to several areas of activity. In accordance with this agreement, the Swiss banking system has intensified the fight against money laundering and other financial crime. Switzerland joined the UN in 2002 following a referendum. Following a referendum in 2005, Switzerland also joined the Schengen cooperation.
Immigration and asylum policy
Switzerland has a significant element of imported labor, making up a total of about 20 percent of the immigrant population (2006). Immigration and refugee policy has been a highly debated topic for several referendums since the 1970s. In 2002, a proposal that would imply one of Europe’s most restrictive asylum laws was rejected by the scarce majority. But following the election victory of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) in 2003, immigration policy was tightened on several occasions, and through a referendum in 2004, the Swiss chose to uphold one of the world’s most stringent rules on citizenship.
However, in line with its closer ties with the EU, Switzerland has both acceded to the Dublin Convention on the Coordinated Treatment of Asylum Seekers and opened up its labor market to EU citizens from the new eastern member states, justified by the need for economic growth.
In the 1990s, Switzerland experienced a certain economic decline and a period of somewhat higher unemployment – a problem that was previously insignificant. However, the country has a trade balance surplus and has a positive balance of payments, especially as a result of the extensive activities in banking, insurance and tourism.
The 1999 and 2003 elections
In the 1999 election, the big winner was the right-wing populist Swiss People’s Party (SVP) and its leader, multi-millionaire Christoph Blocher. SVP became the second largest party in the national assembly after the election.
The Social Democrats remained the largest group. SVP took first place in the elections in 2003, with 28 percent of the vote, and with the result that the party got the trump through its demand to increase from one to two seats in the government. Blocher threatened that SVP would otherwise resign from the government, which would have broken with the 1959 governance model, which assumes that all major parties share in the Cabinet posts.
The 2007 elections
The right-wing populist Swiss People’s Party (SVP) consolidated its position as the largest national assembly in the 2007 elections; the fifth election in a row where immigration and EU opposition gave the party increasing support, this time 29 percent. The Social Democrats, who had marked themselves as the SVP’s main opponent, had now become the second largest – and had to note the biggest decline, to 19 percent.
The leftist environmental party had the greatest progress, but to a small extent succeeded in making climate change and melting alpine trees a theme in the election campaign or in the general public debate. A 2006 report showed that glaciers have more than halved in 150 years, and that the reduction has increased from 3 percent per decade in the period 1850-1970 to 8 percent in each of the decades 1970-2000, raising concerns in the economically important tourism. Equally, it was the constantly new austerity measures in immigration and integration policy that characterized the social debate.
The 2007 election campaign was described as the most murky in Swiss history, with racism accusations, street fights and even an aftermath in the UN context. It is widely known that SVP’s election poster where three “blend white” sheep kick a gray black out of the Swiss flag they are on. In the wake, however, there was also a dispute within SVP about forms of expression and political courses. When the front figure Christoph Blocher had to leave his post, the party withdrew from the government; a breach of the long-standing practice in which all major parties share the Cabinet posts. The breach lasted for one year, until December 2008, when SVP politician Ueli Maurer was elected to the government.
The financial crisis
In the early stages of the financial crisis, Switzerland also had to bring a larger rescue package to the banks – while the international fight against tax havens led several Swiss banks to impose travel bans on their employees for fear of arrests and interrogations in other countries. The accession to the Schengen agreement came into force in 2008, when Switzerland as the 25th country in the series abolished passport control on its borders.
High standard of living
For several years in a row, Switzerland has scored high on international standards of living standards, political openness and economic viability. On the 2013 HDI Human Development Index, the country was ranked number 3 out of a total of 187 countries.