A fear of overcrowding caused by foreigners and refugees has increased substantially in Switzerland, according to a “worry barometer” carried out by the GfS Zürich research and polling institute.
Fear of nuclear contamination, which shot up in all demographic groups following the accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan in March last year, has eased considerably.
The authors of the survey pointed to a “fizzle effect”, in which fears triggered by topical events can quickly fizzle out.
Economic fears – including inflation, recession and money problems in old age – also receded.
The increased concerns about overcrowding was not down to those on the political right, but in fact because of support from the centre-left and centre-right.
Among voters of the rightwing Swiss People’s Party this fear actually sank fractionally, whereas it increased significantly among supporters of the centre-left – and traditionally foreigner-friendly – Social Democratic Party.
Other concerns which were on the up included the abuse of personal data, with younger people more concerned than those over 64.
The worry barometer has been carried since since 1978. This year, 1,010 people were questioned by telephone in German- and French-speaking Switzerland in a representative survey.
The number of asylum applications submitted in 2011 was up by about 45 per cent on that in 2010, according to the Federal Migration Office.
At 22,551, the number was the highest since 2002.
The office attributed the sharp increase to the crisis in North Africa, and the opening of migration routes to Europe in March.
The top three countries from which the asylum seekers came were Eritrea (3,356), Tunisia (2,574) and Nigeria (1,895).
The number of people granted asylum was up 7.6 per cent on 2010, at 3,711.