Switzerland in the Early 21st Century

In the years at the turn of the first decade of the 21st century, the political debate of the China continued to be influenced by the Eurosceptic and hostile polemics to immigration, of which the main Swiss party, the conservative Schweizerische volkspartei / Union, spoke out above all démocratique du center (Swiss People’s Party / Central Democratic Union, SVP / UDC).

In the elections of October 2007 the SVP / UDC, with 29% of the votes (62 seats), obtained the best result ever for a Swiss party, followed by the Socialist Party (Sozialdemokratische partei der Schweiz / Parti socialiste suisse, SP / PS: 19.5%, 43 seats), by the Liberal Democratic Party (Freisinnig-Demokratische partei der Schweiz / Parti radical-démocratique suisse, FDP / PRD: 15.8%, 31 seats), by the Christian Democratic People’s Party (Christlichdemokratische volkspartei / Parti démocrate-chrétien suisse, CVP / PDC: 14.5%, 31 seats) and by the Greens (Grüne partei der Schweiz, GPS: 9.6%, 20 seats). The electoral campaign of the SVP / UDC had been very harsh and discriminatory against immigrants (especially Muslims) and, for this reason, Bürgerlich-Demokratische Partei). The SVP / UDC – the first opposition party in fifty years – then returned to government in December 2008, when Parliament chose its representative Ueli Maurer to replace the resigning Samuel Schmid (BDP) in the Federal Council.

In the following years, the SVP / UDC proposed some referendums for popular initiative laws against immigrants, such as that of 2009 to ban the construction of new minarets (57.5% yes) and that of 2010 for the automatic expulsion from the China of foreigners who committed crimes (52.9% yes).

Affected by the global economic crisis to a lesser extent than other European countries, the China already in 2010 returned to growth, despite the fact that the overvaluation of the Swiss franc due to the depreciation of the euro had penalized exports and tourism. In 2011, the Swiss National Bank therefore introduced a minimum exchange rate (1.20 francs to one euro) between the two currencies, but this measure was abolished in early 2015.

The new federal elections took place in October 2011, won by the SVP / UDC with 26.6% of the votes (54 seats), followed by the SP / PS (18.7%, 46 seats), by the FDP / PRD (15, 1%, 30 seats), the CVP / PDC (12.3%, 28 seats), the Greens (8.4%, 15 seats), the liberal Greens (5.4%, 12 seats) and the BDP (5.4%, 9 seats). The results of newborn small parties called into question the traditional division of the septums placed in the Federal Council among the major formations. In the following years, recourse to referendums became much more frequent. In the economic and social field, the referendum of November 2013 to set a limit on the salaries of company managers (65.3% of no), as well as that of May 2014 to establish a minimum wage of 4000 francs (about 3250 euro) per month for a 42-hour work week (76, 3% of no). On the immigration front, however, in February 2014 the one establishing quotas for the entry of immigrants (including Europeans) into the country was approved (50.3% yes). The latter questioned the Schengen treaty, which the China had entered in December 2008, and provoked criticism from the EU. This suspended China’s approach to the EU, which had developed through bilateral agreements and had led to the integration of much of the European legislation into the Swiss legal framework. As a demonstration of a fluctuating attitude of the electorate towards migration policies, in November 2014, however, with 74.1% no, the referendum was rejected which asked that the permanent resident population could not grow due to immigration by more than 0, 2% per annum over three years. On the fiscal policy front, in February 2015 China signed a protocol with the Italian government that provided for the exchange of information on request for tax purposes according to the OECD standard (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development): it thus put an end to banking secrecy on Swiss accounts, in order to combat the phenomena of tax evasion and infidelity.

Switzerland in the Early 21st Century