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Divisions run deep among the Swiss

The "Röstigraben" divide is named after one of Switzerland's traditional dishes, rösti


The Swiss are divided by more than just language, according to a new survey, which found a strong element of mutual dislike between the German- and French-language regions.

Almost half of respondents thought regional differences could even lead to the break-up of Switzerland.

The study by the GfS research institute found that while 73 per cent of Swiss Germans liked their French-speaking neighbours, just 51 per cent of Swiss French returned the compliment.

And 29 per cent of French speakers said they would not regret it if the country were to break apart.

André Rothenbühler, who compiled the survey, said the very different attitudes were not surprising and could be attributed to the German-speakers' dominance of economic and political life.

The study found that younger people and the less well educated were generally not as well disposed towards their neighbours as older, better-educated Swiss.

Swiss split?

This raised fears that the well-documented cultural gulf between the two language regions - usually referred to as the Röstigraben - could widen in years to come, Rothenbühler warned.

Some 63 per cent of Swiss French were of the opinion that German-speaking Switzerland paid them too little, if any regard.

And while equal number of Swiss Germans and French thought Switzerland could break up as a result of the divisions, feelings on the subject were divided. While 80 per cent of Swiss Germans said they would regret the disintegration of Switzerland, the figure among French speakers was just 61 per cent.

The study revealed a higher level of dissatisfaction with the status quo among French speakers than among German speakers, the researchers said, and showed that a significant minority of Swiss French felt alienated from the rest of the country.

swissinfo with agencies

Survey shows divisions among Swiss

A new study has found the cultural differences between the German- and French-speaking parts of the country are as big as ever.

Just 50 per cent of Swiss French questioned said they liked their German-speaking neighbours and 29 per cent said they would not care if Switzerland broke apart.

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