Elections fail to spark interest in politics


The polarisation of political opinion after last year’s federal elections has not made the Swiss any more interested in politics, according to a survey.

This content was published on December 8, 2004 - 20:11

But the number of those favouring more direct democracy is on the rise.

The Univox survey, carried out by researchers at Bern University, found that 63 per cent of those polled were “moderately interested” in politics, just two per cent more than two years previously.

Last year’s elections resulted in gains for the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, and the Social Democratic and Green camps. The polarisation was also fuelled by fierce debates over the election of People’s Party parliamentarian Christoph Blocher to the cabinet.

The “Direct Democracy” survey was carried out in February this year among 714 people, 26 per cent from the French-language part of Switzerland and 74 per cent from the German-speaking part.

Interest in public issues remains stable, according to the gfs research institute of Zurich, which commissioned the study. The figure of 60 per cent “interested” was the same as in Univox studies between the years 1994 and 1997.

Democratic institutions

But more Swiss than before want a reinforcement of public rights, with 32 per cent of those questioned in favour of strengthening democratic institutions, compared with 27 per cent in 2002, 30 per cent in 2000 and 17 per cent in 1995.

There was a marked difference between the two language regions in the study, with 55 per cent of French-speakers in favour of more rights, compared with only 23 per cent of German speakers.

The Bernese researchers also found a higher interest in “non-conventional political action”, noting that during the past 15 years, demonstrations had become a widely accepted political instrument.

Almost half of those questioned said they were prepared to take part in demonstrations. In 1987, the figure was only about a half of that.

The image of the political parties among the public has improved, according to the study, with 77 per cent of people questioned feeling that they are essential for politics to function, compared with 64 per cent in 1998.

This view was shared by all social groups but was less pronounced in the French-speaking part of the country.

Seven out of ten people felt that the parties had a strong influence (60 per cent in 2000 and 67 per cent in 1995). More people than before also believed that the media and individuals themselves had a great power to influence the politics of the country.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Univox is a poll which studies attitudes towards most aspects of life in Switzerland.
714 people took part in the direct democracy poll, which is considered representative.
Preparation of the questions and analysis of the data was carried out by Bern University’s Institute of Political Science.

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In brief

63% of those questioned in the Univox poll said they were interested in public affairs, compared with 61% in 2002.

32% would like to see more direct democracy (27% in 2002).

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