From Wed May 31 08:46:41 2000
Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 22:40:55 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Switzerland, With Resurgent Right Wing, Withdraws from the World
Article: 96168
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

In the face of a growing tide of the right, Switzerland tries to turn its back on the world

By Hugo Alonso, Prensa Latina, 13 May 2000

One hundred thousand Swiss have just signed its call on a referendum concerning the adhesion of the Alpine republic to the Organization of the United Nations, 14 years after a similar motion was rejected by 76 percent of the voters.

More recently, in 1992, a plebiscite also failed on its entry into the Space of the European Economy, preview to the One Market.

Since then, all efforts of the Federal Council (government) to approach Europe have been denounced by the radical right—represented by the Democratic Central Union (DCU) and its leader, Christopher Blocher—as a treasonable act against that result.

Nevertheless, the Federal Council managed a slow approach to the European Union by sectors because, in spite of everything, this is an economic reality too evident to be ignored.

What then is the purpose of renewing the initiative of approaching Switzerland to international organizations, in this case the UN? Some analysts consider it a wasted effort of the citizen's right to pronounce itself on all matters that concern them, as a reaction to the advance of the nationalist right and xenophobia, anti-Europeanism, opposed to membership to the UN and NATO in the federal elections of this past October.

The DCU arose from these elections as a first electoral force of the country by doubling its votes: 23.3 percent compared with 11.9 in 1991 (14.9 percent in 1995) and be second in the National Council (Lower House) with 44 seats in opposition to the 51 of the Socialist Party.

A vote for membership in the UN could be, on the other hand, a result of the transformation that Swiss mentality has gone through during the past years.

Other reactions of the media consider that it would be improbable in this country obsessed with the preservation of its identity that, for that same rising radical right, is based on its independence, direct democracy and armed neutrality.

This latter is not an obstacle for the Swiss Confederation to participate since 1997 in the Peace Association, a military and political collaborative structure created by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to relate itself with the former socialist and neutral countries (such as Switzerland) aimed at the East-West confrontation.

According to surveys the average Swiss is concerned, above all, about the security of his jobs and the increase of foreigners in his country, 60 percent of whom were born in Switzerland or have resided there for over a decade, although their citizenship has been denied.

Historically a land of asylum whose labor market induced thousands of immigrants during the 1930s, Switzerland closed its doors to foreigners, but with some remaining shinks in its wall, and it watches with alarm the population growth of the others, mostly Eastern Europeans, who now comprise one-fifth of the country's seven million inhabitants.

The Swiss media estimates that the massive arrival of Albanian-Kosovars this past year played a major role in the electoral progress of the DCU.

Exploiting this fear of the other, as well as the loss of social advantages, these sources add, the Democratic Central Union did not refrain from putting the citizens on guard against the EU, the UN, NATO and globalization.

On the other hand the rise of the right wing in Switzerland is not an isolated event in Europe. During the beginning of this year a party of similar ideology gained access to the Austrian government. Both circumstances are seen with growing concern because of the cheap nationalism that it breeds, the hate of the foreigner and a populist demagoguery, that drew cultivated and humanist Europe to one of its blackest periods in the past 70 years.