Your browser is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this websites. Learn how to update your browser[Close]
Live blog

America elects - the Swiss view

What does this historic election mean for you and how will it impact political, cultural or economic relations between the countries?

By Veronica DeVore, Susan Misicka, Simon Bradley, Jessica Dacey, Matthew Allen, Jo Fahy, Isobel Leybold-Johnson
SWI swissinfo.ch

15:03

Over and out

After a momentous election we are signing off. We hope you’ve enjoyed the coverage. A special thanks to our citizen bloggers who contributed throughout the night, bringing their unique Swiss perspective on life in the US and the democratic process.

We’ll be bringing more analysis and reaction to the election on our homepage.

- The swissinfo.ch team  

Final thoughts

Swiss reaction from within the US

These reactions from our Swiss abroad bloggers reflect the wider public's range of emotions to the election of Donald Trump as president.

Nick Wenker’s Swiss family moved to Houston when he was seven. He’s been a Republican since he was a teenager, but even he was stunned by the presidential and senate results: “All my liberal friends are outraged and shell-shocked. I think we will have a very divided America that needs to pay more attention to people ignored by politicians and the media.”

Dan Stan, who moved to US over 20 years ago, said although the result is “pretty catastrophic, the show must go on”. “Personally, I think the shift needed to happen. The destruction of middle class, globalization and issues caused by it across the developed world, out of control immigration across Europe, the chaos in Muslim world ... so many issues that look like they are getting out of control. The only problem ... Trump is a HORRIBLE man to address any of these issues. But Hillary, the embodiment of old establishment, very bad candidate. I voted for neither of the candidates.”

Marlene von Arx, a freelancer journalist working in LA, said: “I feel I know nothing anymore. I don’t think he will turn the country completely upside down though. There are too many cooks in Washington for that to happen. Time to calm down and regroup and in a next step overhaul the entire electoral/campaign system.” 

Others remain frightened by the outcome.

René Wolfensberger grew up Switzerland and moved to US in 1990. “I am scared. America has chosen the racist over a woman. Let's hope it's going to be not as bad as it looks. People are shocked in tears and disappointed. My friends are all in disbelief.” 

Dave Long, a Clinton supporter from Arziona who is naturalised Swiss, tried to put his emotions into words: “Despair doesn't begin to describe it. Lost is too poetic. Homicidal comes a little closer ... at least to the degree of rage. Stunned, numb, angry, shocked, pissed, amazed, weird, stupified, inconsolable are a part of it. Mostly I'm scared. This result is not good for the USA and will set us all back on so many levels.”

“Whatever the result is, the majority has spoken!” noted Hanré Chang, a Swiss whose family moved to the US when he was 15.

Zurich, 12:00

What does the election mean for Swiss business?

Martin Naville, CEO of Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce on Trump’s election told swissinfo.ch that the election result is "certainly not good news for Swiss business", as Trump "stands for trade protectionism".

He commented that Switzerland is one of the "strongest investors in the US" and "trades in quality goods, which do not involve cheap labour".

In that respect, Naville continued, "Swiss companies are not on the frontline of any potentially adverse Trump trade policies". "He has spoken of imposing taxes on Chinese and Mexican goods and pulling out of trade agreements and the WTO. If the US starts to adopt a protectionist trade strategy then Switzerland would certainly feel the knock-on effects and suffer damage."

We'll bring you more reaction today from the Swiss business sector from our correspondent in Zurich, Matthew Allen.

 

Bern, 10:45 AM

Trump victory creates question marks

Christa Markwalder, the speaker of the Swiss House of Representatives said on Wednesday morning that she sees “a lot of question marks“ when it comes the impact of Trump's victory.

Although it is in Switzerland's interest to keep good ties with the US, Markwalder said Trump's victory had created a climate of insecurity unfavourable for investors. She is a member of the Switzerland – US parliamentary association.

“Switzerland has a good reputation in the US, about half a million US citizens have Swiss roots,” she commented, adding that both countries shared the same values as “sister republics”.

 

Brave faces

Clinton supporters voice disappointment

Fabienne and Will Jones travelled from Payerne, in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, to attend the US Embassy party in Bern. Wearing a Hillary Clinton T-shirt, Fabienne was hoping to enjoy a celebration. Instead, she and her husband ended up on the losing side.


Bern, 10 AM

What does the Swiss foreign minister think?

Political figures in Switzerland are starting to comment this morning.

The Swiss foreign minister Didier Burkhalter, told Swiss Public Radio, RTS, on Wednesday: “The world changes, the United States changes, Switzerland doesn’t change in the same way. We are defending our Swiss interests and values.”

“We will continue our mission to promote peace and security, economic growth, science and research,” he added, and continued with a note of reassurance, “Switzerland can work with any US administration.”

We'll bring you more reaction from Switzerland as it comes in today. 

View from Switzerland

Swiss women had counted on Hillary win

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (right) meets Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey (left) in Washington DC, July 2009 (Keystone)

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (right) meets Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey (left) in Washington DC, July 2009

(Keystone)

Donald Trump has made it to the White House. This is likely to surprise many prominent Swiss female politicians, who had been looking forward to Hillary Clinton being the first female president of the United States.

Switzerland has had female presidents since 1999. But it is an honorary, rotating position among the cabinet, so a very different job to that of US president.

One of the country’s former presidents – Micheline Calmy-Rey, who held the post in 2007 and 2011 – was foreign minister when Clinton was Secretary of State, in charge of foreign affairs. They first met in 2009.

“We were not friends. Each of us defended our own country’s interests,” Calmy-Rey said in an interview with the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper, published on the Sunday ahead of the election. But they did enjoy a certain “tacit agreement”, she said.

They worked on the UBS bank data affair and telephoned each other often in the years that followed, including, memorably for Calmy-Rey, while she was at the hairdresser’s. For Calmy-Rey the two women shared common values of human rights, dialogue, multilateralism and promotion of women. Clinton gave Switzerland continuity and would be “a president that we already know well,” added Calmy-Rey.

Demanding and important

Elisabeth Kopp, Switzerland’s very first female cabinet member, in 1984, reflected on the job of US president, which is “without doubt the most demanding and important in the western world,” as she told the tabloid Blick ahead of the vote. Women often have different priorities than going after this job, she said. This is why it had taken 96 years after women received the vote in the US for there to be a female presidential candidate, she explained.

Many woman were hoping for a Clinton win as a further step towards equality, Kopp said in comments made on Monday.

Alliance F, the association of Swiss women’s organisations, said that having a woman in the most powerful job in the world would make young women dream that they could do it too. If Clinton were to win, it would help show that politics, power and being the boss were not just male domains, Maya Graf, the organisation’s co-president and herself a Green party parliamentarian, told the Aargauer Zeitung newspaper on November 3.

However, the whole article noted that even if Clinton were to win, not everyone would be happy about it. Her lack of charisma, the whiff of scandal around her emails and health concerns all combined to make her “no popstar”, even for European women. And these issues had overshadowed the potential “historical moment”. 

We have a winner

Trump is the new US president

 (Reuters)
(Reuters)

US media reports that Hilary Clinton has conceded, and numerous media outlets have called the election. Donald Trump has given a victory speech after speaking to Clinton on the phone, where he says, she gave him her congratulations. 

Bern, 8:30AM

Time to go

Most of the people have gone home at this point. Journalists hurry to bang out their stories as café workers tidy up for a new day. There's something forlorn about the discarded Uncle Sam hats...

Time moving on

The Trump vote grows

It's been a tense and exciting night in Switzerland and at the US Embassy event in Bern. Current ambassador Suzi LeVine addressed the crowd just now, and we broadcast her words live on Facebook and took a look at how people are reacting as time ticks on.


Bern, 7 AM

Testing the atmosphere

We've been blogging from a US Embassy event in Bern overnight in Switzerland. Our journalist Susan Misicka went live on Facebook to show us how people are feeling there. 

To give you an idea of the crowd, a mock ballot was held at the event and Clinton received a majority of the vote.

 (swissinfo.ch)
(swissinfo.ch)



Bern, 6 AM

'Catastrophe' if Trump wins

Here's what's at stake for one American citizen, Rita Burri, watching election returns in Bern.

Where are you watching or following the election? Tweet us your pictures to @swissinfo_en or if you're Swiss and live outside Switzerland, post a video or photo on Instagram of where you're following the election using the hashtag #WeAreSwissAbroad.

We'd love to share your pictures and find out what you're up to and how you're feeling!


Bern, 5 AM

Marking the map

Still a full house at the US Embassy-hosted party in Bern. The smell of early breakfast bacon is in the air, and somebody just dropped a glass of orange juice. A little while ago, high school students from Bern's Kirchenfeld Gymnasium helped fill in the map.


US Ambassador

Explaining the electoral system

US Ambassador Suzi LeVine says the crowd that has turned out to watch election returns in the wee hours of the morning in Bern has "far exceeded expectations". The crowd, she says, is made up of students, teachers, business leaders and entrepreneurs from around Switzerland.

Over the course of the last several months, LeVine has had the role of explaining the US election system to the Swiss.  

"Especially here in Switzerland there are some key differences between the Swiss parliamentary elections and the US election system," she says. "I've been focusing on explaining how people vote more or less directly for the president of the United States, and how our electoral system makes it a state-by-state election."

"How a president gets elected in the United States is the result of incredible volunteer power, people knocking on doors and making phone calls." Those grassroots efforts, she says, are another aspect she often finds herself explaining in Switzerland.

Here's more on how the US and Swiss voting systems compare:


Geneva, 3 AM

Trumpeting Mr Trump

“We’re hoping for a win. It’ll come down to a few swing states,” said Edward Karr, one of the few people to openly wear a Trump badge and red “Make America Great Again” baseball cap at the Geneva US election party. 

 (swissinfo.ch)
(swissinfo.ch)

“Donald Trump is the nominee of the party and whether you like him or hate him, agree with him or disagree with him, you have to respect him as the nominee,” said Karr, who is founder of RAMPartners, an investment management and banking firm based in Geneva. 

“The best candidate is Donald Trump. He has been divisive but he is the nominee of the party. He would be a better course for the future than Clinton who is a real established Washington insider.” 

If Trump is elected and he has support from both chambers and a unified party maybe he can push through much of the change he has talked about, said Karr. 

One issue the Republican hopes Trump will follow through on is an overhaul of the tax system, which affects many Americans overseas as the US is one of the very few countries that taxes people based on citizenship rather than residency. 

“I’ve seen a lot of Americans here in Geneva give up their nationality for financial or taxation reasons. It’s sad. All of us overseas regardless of political party would like to see some changes there,” he said. 

“But otherwise I don’t see too many changes for US expats under a Trump presidency.”

Wisconsin, Indiana and Chicago

High hopes and nerves

Emotions are running high across the United States, and also in the homes of Swiss abroad, as the returns come in.

Matt Lehman of the Swiss-founded town of Berne, Indiana says that "we are Trump hopefuls and are hopes are still high. I am at a private party and the crowd is excited!!

The scene in a Berne, Indiana household (courtesy of Matt Lehman)

The scene in a Berne, Indiana household

(courtesy of Matt Lehman)

For Kirstin Kuenzi in Chicago, "The mood is NERVOUS! I know that it was expected for Trump to win so many southern states, but I still don't like seeing so much red on the map. This is feeling more real than it did before."

"The mood is mixed at the Brand household," says Ed Brand in New Glarus, Wisconsin. "It looks as though the Republicans will hold the Senate so we're thankful for that. As for the Presidential race, I get the feeling that Florida will go to Hillary so that ensures she'll be President, but with the Republicans in the majority in the House and the Senate, she won't be able to do too much damage. I hope she takes time to read the Constitution before she's inaugurated."

Other thoughts on Florida from Carolyn Schultz, also of New Glarus. "So far, the results for projected states aren't surprising. We're hoping Florida will swing Democrat, but it's looking like that may not happen. Nail biting suspense. We're hopeful overall."

And in Somerville, Massachusetts, where Swiss abroad Maria Avila lives, the local liquor store is telling it straight to those fevering along with the election returns.

 (Courtesy Maria Avila)
(Courtesy Maria Avila)


Bern, 2 AM

What will happen down-ballot?

 (swissinfo.ch)
(swissinfo.ch)


Robin Bartlett Rissi is originally from Maine but has lived in Switzerland for 14 years. As more and more polls close, she feels "confident, in general," that Hillary Clinton will pull out a win. 

In addition to keeping an eye on the presidential returns, Robin is also tuned in to the results of ballot initiatives in her state ranging from gun control to minimum wage and voting reform. A democratic win, she thinks, could influence the outcome of those down-ballot issues.

"For me, the most important thing is that the US has a president who is intelligent, respectful to all kinds of people and able to make well-informed decisions. That's what I've always loved about Obama."

Robin will also be watching what happens with her somewhat unique home state of Maine, since its electoral votes can be split among candidates and Donald Trump may come away with a few votes in that state. Maine is one of two states - the other being Nebraska - that allocate two electoral votes to the popular vote winner, and then one each to the popular vote winner in each Congressional district (two in Maine, three in Nebraska) in their state. 

Geneva, 2 AM

International Geneva is nervous over Trump win

American-themed prints for sale at the Geneva event (swissinfo.ch)

American-themed prints for sale at the Geneva event

(swissinfo.ch)

Staff working at so-called International Geneva, the 30-plus international organisations, United Nations agencies and 250 NGOs based in the western Swiss city, seem to be uneasy about Donald Trump as president.  

“They are worried and very nervous,” said Daniel Warner, Assistant Director for International Relations at DCAF, the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces. 

For International Geneva his election would be a catastrophe, said Warner. 

“He’s an American first person, he doesn’t like Nato or the United Nations and he’s against the Trans-Pacific Partnership…He would cut budgets for certain things like foreign aid and the state department would be in trouble, no question about that.” 

A Geneva election party-goer working for a UN climate agency in the city, who preferred to remain anonymous, agreed: “We are afraid that our programmes would be cut as he’s a climate change sceptic.” 

Beyond the budgets for UN programmes, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein, said the world would be in danger if Trump becomes president. 

He cited Trump's views on vulnerable communities including minorities and his talk of authorising torture in interrogations, banned under international law. 

"If Donald Trump is elected on the basis of what he has said already - and unless that changes - I think it is without any doubt that he would be dangerous from an international point of view," Zeid told a news briefing in Geneva in October. 

Trump has said he would immediately re-authorise the waterboarding of suspected militants if elected, contending that "torture works".

 

Bern, 1 AM

All night long with the American Embassy

The American embassy in Bern and its ambassador, Suzi LeVine, are hosting an overnight gathering attended by a mix of American expats and Swiss locals including business and political leaders.

The atmosphere before the first results come in is cheerful and anticipatory, with a long line of people waiting to hear speeches and mingle.

In her first remarks to the crowd, LeVine said she remembers how "celebratory, nerve-wracking and energizing" it was to be in Chicago for both elections of Barack Obama.

"We never dreamed we would be here doing this in Switzerland this time around."

Bern at midnight, ready for election night (swissinfo.ch)

Bern at midnight, ready for election night

(swissinfo.ch)
A bluegrass band is entertaining guests throughout the night (swissinfo.ch)

A bluegrass band is entertaining guests throughout the night

(swissinfo.ch)
Guests can pose with portraits of former US presidents (swissinfo.ch)

Guests can pose with portraits of former US presidents

(swissinfo.ch)


Geneva, midnight

Canapés and consensus

 (Keystone)
(Keystone)

Around 300 American expatriates – mostly Democrats but also a smattering of Republicans – and 60 journalists have been celebrating the US presidential election at an all-night event near Geneva Airport – Switzerland’s biggest cross-party celebration.

Presidential campaign tensions don’t seem to have seeped into the high-profile party at the Villa Sarasin near the Palexpo exhibition centre in Geneva. While Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have been locked in nasty, bitter, personal debate, here participants who paid CHF80 ($81) sipped glasses of wine, chatted and nibbled on canapés, as they nervously followed the early election news on CNN.

The organizers call it a historic event, as for the first time the party hosted five Swiss-based groups of US expats, including Democrats Abroad Switzerland, Republicans Overseas, American Citizens Abroad - Geneva Chapter, the American International Club and The American International Women’s Club.

“It’s been really great as all the people who helped organize were really happy that we came together. It started out with really good energy,” Anne-Shelton Aaron, chair of the organizing committee. “Given the way the world is going and the way the election has been held. It was consensus that we wanted to come together and build bridges.”

She described the 18-month campaign as ‘horrendous’ adding that ‘incredible damage’ had been done. “I think there has been a degradation of support for institutions, which are the root of our country and I’m not sure how easy that is to repair,” she said. “There has been so little respect and that’s a little scary.”

California, Wisconsin, Arizona, Illinois

What Switzerland can teach the US about democracy

If you’ve lived in Switzerland, it can be irresistible to compare the Swiss model of direct democracy with that of the US, particularly after a campaign as controversial the 2016 presidential race.

On one level, Swiss citizens spend more time researching and weighing on the issues before making their vote, according to Philippe Rey of San Jose, California. “Here in the US it all comes down to a popularity contest while values and core issues no longer matter.” Dave Long in Arziona agrees. “It seems that our elected officials are constantly in campaign and fund-raising mode while important problems are not only not being resolved but not even addressed! The US could learn a lot about campaign lengths from the Swiss.”

Switzerland also offers lessons in how to empower its citizens, says Mitzie Moser in Atlanta, Georgia. “Compared to Switzerland, I wish America had a democracy that gave citizens more of a voice and say in how the government is run, and allows citizens to have final decisions in what affects them.” 

Ed Brand in New Glarus, Wisconsin would rather have a choice of several major political parties, as in Switzerland, than two. “I also like Switzerland's use of referendums because they make it easier to vote contrary to your own party's position if you disagree with your own party on any given issue.”

But for Kirstin Kuenzi in Chicago it’s hard to compare the two countries. “When I was back in Zurich this summer, I kept thinking how much easier things seemed in Switzerland and how much more the Swiss residents are offered (such as better health care, college tuition, etc). But I had to remind myself that the US is 40 times the size of Switzerland- 318 million vs 8 million people! Many of these social benefits just aren't sustainable for Americans with a population this large. It's all relative!”

Impact on lives

From the White House to everyday America

The US president is seen as the country's representative and chief decision maker. But how much will he or she truly affect Americans' everyday lives? Here's what our contributors think.

I'm most concerned that Hillary would socialize healthcare. Any decrease in access to quality healthcare, or increase in cost, would directly negatively affect my family. – Ed Brand, Swiss in New Glarus, Wisconsin

If Clinton becomes president, progressive Democrats like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren (my two favorite politicians) will be in a better position to push the DNC platform more to the left through the Senate. This will have a greater positive effect on the average middle class citizen such as me. – Hanré Chang, Swiss in Santa Barbara, California

 (Courtesy Dave Long)
(Courtesy Dave Long)


They don't keep their promises! Additionally, the president needs a lot of approvals before making a real change!Anne-Catherine Kelley, Swiss in Houston, Texas

Being able to marry who I love will not be possible under a Trump presidency. – René Wolfsberger, Swiss in Los Angeles

I am less concerned by the effect of either candidacy on my personal life than on the country overall. We are at the crossroads of two distinct political ideologies concerning the future of our nation. Either presidency will impact mostly the poor (level of access to social services/healthcare) and the rich (level of taxation). – Fabrice Jotterand, Swiss in Wisconsin

Swiss voices on the issues

What matters to you?

What are the issues at the heart of this campaign driving voters to the polls? We put the question to our network of Swiss living in the US and people living in Swiss-founded towns. 

Income inequality, creating good paying jobs, and student debt are great concerns of mine. – Conrad Gees, Swiss living in Massachusetts

___

The issues I care about range from the creation of a fair tax code, to elimination of corporate influence on legislation (via lobbyists and super PACs), to the creation of a new economy that invests heavily in quality public schools and infrastructure, to a sensible re-evaluation of our defense budget and priorities, to a strategy for a cleaner environment and cleaner energy production, to equality for all, to reasonable and empathetic immigration reform, to acceptance of our multiculturalism, to an openness to innovative ideas from the rest of the world, to peace. – Dave Long, Swiss living in Arizona

___

I worry the most about Supreme Court nominations and the growth of the federal government – Nick Wenker, Swiss living in Houston

___

I care about equality for middle class Americans, women, immigrants, LGBT and more affordable college education for my children. – Mitzie Moser, Swiss living in Atlanta

__

Human rights – René Wolfensberger, Swiss living in Los Angeles

__

The most specific concern I have with our county today is the amount of corruption that comes along with the Clintons. The lies and cover-ups are unspeakable!... Allow law enforcement to do their jobs with the support of the government and the people and stop making them stand down when protesters start breaking the law... American citizens need to be placed over illegal immigrants – Jo Varga, lives in Swiss-founded town of Sugarcreek, Ohio

__

Climate change and civil rights - Kirstin Kuenzi, Swiss living in Chicago

Ohio and Texas

How confident are US voters in the system?

With Donald Trump having made statements about a “rigged” election, there’s been heightened scrutiny on voting issues across the country. So far, reports indicate isolated issues mainly related to confusion about voter ID laws.

As we highlighted earlier, an international delegation of election observers – including four Swiss – is on the ground across the country keeping an eye on proceedings. 

Nick Wenker, a Swiss abroad living in Houston, says he’s also helping keep tabs on the situation, “volunteering all afternoon and evening as a poll monitor in Houston with a non-partisan group called Election Protection to help with monitoring a Spanish-language supermarket that is a voting location.” 

 (Nick Wenker)
(Nick Wenker)

Joe Varga, a Trump voter and vice chairman of the Holmes County Republicans who lives in the Swiss-founded town of Sugarcreek, Ohio, says he felt some uncertainty when casting his ballot. 

“There was no proof given to me that my choices were scanned correctly. I had received word last week that there would possibly be an 'observer' from a neighboring county present at either my township polling place or at a neighboring polling place - there was none present. Even if an observer were present to oversee the process in my township, he would not have been able to confirm or deny that ballots were scanned correctly.”

Fair voting

Swiss help observe election

Yves Nidegger of Switzerland is currently on the ground in the US as part of an international delegation monitoring the voting process. The lawyer and member of the House of Representatives from the conservative right Swiss People’s Party is joined by three of his parliamentary colleagues and 433 other observers from around the world sent by the OSCE. The delegation is nearly eight times as large as the one dispatched in 2012.

What does the job involve? 

“The observer makes sure that everyone can vote in good conditions, that there are booths and an adequate number of ballots,” Nidegger’s colleague Hugues Hiltpold of the centre-right Radical party told the press.

Hiltpold is on the ground in Pennsylvania, while Nidegger is observing voting in upstate New York’s Erie County, according to the Tribune de Genève newspaper. 

California, Massachusetts, Wisconsin

“Lots of people showing off their ‘I voted’ sticker”

First-time voter Philippe Rey-Westlund from San Jose, California became a US citizen a year ago and voted by mail the day the ballot arrived in his mailbox. “There is too much at stake for immigrants, LGBTQQ community, women and every minorities this time around,” he says. Conrad Gees also voted early. “My wife and I voted a week ago and brought our grandson along to see. It was the first time that the people of Massachusetts could vote early. There was a line, which was encouraging because it means that people are taking this vote seriously. The mood was upbeat and professional.”

Others were keen to be among the first voters on election day. Dan Stan of San Diego headed to his local YMCA early, anticipating lots of people. “There are people voting but it's well organized and fast. I spent couple hours researching the issues. This morning I just dropped off my sealed envelope and got my ‘I voted‘ sticker. Already at work. Lots of people showing off their ‘I voted’ sticker.”

 (Courtesy Dan Stan)
(Courtesy Dan Stan)

Dave Long of Arizona said people who work long days have found it hard getting to the polls. "The Swiss system of voting on Sunday gives more people the chance to make it to the polls."

At the town hall in Springdale Township in Dane County, Wisconsin, Ed Brand was number 149. “The mood was about the same as any other time I voted in the town of Springdale. People here are friendly, so even when we disagree, we all get along. After placing my vote, I feel thankful that I won't have to suffer through endless political ads on TV and endure friends' political posts on Facebook. Of course I also am thankful that I have the right to vote!”

That’s something Rene Wolfensberger from LA wishes he had. “I am not yet an American citizen and unfortunately that does not allow me to vote. This year makes it more frustrating as I am a gay person and feel that all my rights will be taken away by a Trump presidency.”

Dateline USA

Meet our bloggers

Tonight we have people from around the US sharing their perspectives of election night and the presidential campaign. As you can see from this map, they are a mix of Swiss abroad and people living in Swiss-founded towns. Keep an eye out for their contributions in our blog posts.


Geneva, Bern, Zurich

On the ground

What’s happening across Switzerland on election night? Our journalists will be keeping across events taking place in major cities. Our Geneva correspondent Simon Bradley will be covering a cross-party celebration, taking the pulse of the city’s large expat community. In Bern, the US Embassy is hosting an all-nighter where Ambassador Suzi LeVine will be making three speeches. Journalists Veronica DeVore and Susan Misicka will be on the ground. 

At dawn, business leaders will be digesting the latest results at a breakfast in Zurich hosted by the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce. Our business correspondent Matthew Allen will be there to get reactions with the impact on Swiss interests. Events are also taking place in Basel. Stay tuned!

Santa Barbara and Houston

Choosing between “the lesser of two evils”?

It's safe to say that in general, American’s aren’t very happy with their choice of candidates this year. 

According to gallup.com, Republican nominee Donald Trump's unfavourable score is the worst in American presidential polling history, at 61%. And at 52%, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s is the second worst.

Hanré Chang, a Swiss abroad from Rheinfelden, Aargau who now lives in Santa Barbara, California, says:

“I have cast my vote…’for the lesser of two evils’. This seems to have become the common slogan going into the elections. We desperately need another major party to represent [Independents]. The two party system and the electoral college system are the reasons so many people feel like their vote doesn't matter. The two-party system is not representative enough of the whole country.”

Anne Catherine Kelley, a Swiss abroad from Valais and now living in Houston, Texas, says: "To be very honest, I don't support much either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump...so I'm still uncertain who I will vote for!!!” 

Some voters, like Chang, have opted to select the candidate they feel is the lesser evil – presumably to prevent the greater evil from entering the White House.

For others, voting for a third party candidate is another way around this dilemma.

“I have been a Republican since I was a teenager, but I think Trump is a demagogic idiot and that Clinton is a corrupt and self-interested liar, so I wrote in Evan McMullin of Utah for President," says Nick Wenker, a Swiss abroad born in Zurich and now living in Houston, Texas.

According to the Wall Street Journal, opinion polls indicate that Libertarian Gary Johnson, Green Party nominee Jill Stein, and independent Evan McMullin are “on course for the best showing by third party or independent candidates in nearly two decades” – referring to Ralph Nader’s 2000 run, in which he received nearly 3% of America’s vote for the Green Party.

But it's hard to say whether this increased support is due to greater openness of voters to third party candidates, or directly to unhappiness with this year’s major party candidates.

 (Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Atlanta and San José

A country – and houses – divided

Division has dominated the headlines of this US presidential campaign, and nothing shows where alliances lie quite like yard signs.

Philippe Rey, a psychologist living in California originally from Crans-Montana in Valais, Switzerland, has a Hillary Clinton sign displayed outside his San José home.

Tonight, he says he is "going to a party on our street block and watching the results with like-minded friends. In the room with us will be other immigrants, members of the LGBTQQ community and civic and community leaders."

 (Philippe Rey)
(Philippe Rey)

And Mitzie Moser, a naturalised Swiss living in Atlanta who works as a flight attendant, lives in a house divided: her husband and son are Trump supporters, while she and her daughter support Hillary Clinton.

She says she has: "...hope that the USA can be reunited as a nation after this very divisive campaign. The atmosphere has felt like a huge black cloud has been hovering, I’m ready for it to go away."

Nick Wenker of Houston, Texas and originally from Zurich says he is worried about violence at polling places because, "this has been the ugliest election season in the 25 years I have lived in America."

Voter turnout - US and CH

How many voters will head to the polls?

As election results roll in tonight, all eyes will be on the question of how many people went to vote. Historically, voter turnout in US presidential elections has hovered around 55 to 60% - not particularly high and 27th out of 35 developed nations for voter turnout, according to an international comparison from the OECD. But Switzerland actually does worse.


In addition to the national parliamentary elections held every four years (and reflected in the chart above), Swiss voters go to the polls several times a year to decide on issues of national, cantonal and local interest.

Average turnout for those ballot votes is also pretty low (43%). A vote on deporting foreign criminals and building an alpine tunnel saw 63% turnout, the highest in the country since the 1992 ballot on whether to join the European Economic Area – a halfway house to European Union membership.

The canton of Schaffhausen is the champion of turnout in Switzerland, at 65%. But maybe that’s because it’s compulsory

Houston and Chicago

‘Exhaustion and depression’ on election eve

Among the Swiss abroad voting in and witnessing the American election from the US, the mood heading into election day is overwhelmingly negative. 

Nick Wenker, a 30-year-old attorney in Houston, Texas originally from Zurich, says, “I feel exhaustion and depression. No matter who wins it will be terrible. Normally I would be rooting strongly for the Republican candidate, but Trump is the worst person ever nominated for President. I am nervous about a Clinton presidency because I think it will be as bad as Obama's, but living under Trump would probably be even scarier.” 

Chicago's skyline with Trump tower (swissinfo.ch)

Chicago's skyline with Trump tower

(swissinfo.ch)


Kirstin Kuenzi, a 29-year-old who works for the US Environmental Protection Agency in Chicago, is a dual citizen originally from Thun, Switzerland. She also voted in Barack Obama’s hometown of Chicago in 2008, when “the feeling around the city was bombastic. We were excited, hopeful, and thriving.”

But today?

“This time around I feel the exact opposite - scared, stressed, and angry. I am extremely worried that Donald Trump will surprise us all and end up winning the ballot; and I don't know what kind of America we would live in if that happened.”

Brave faces

Clinton supporters voice disappointment

Fabienne and Will Jones travelled from Payerne, in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, to attend the US Embassy party in Bern. Wearing a Hillary Clinton T-shirt, Fabienne was hoping to enjoy a celebration. Instead, she and her husband ended up on the losing side.