If you are reading this, chances are that you have a strong interest in both Swiss and American affairs. Maybe you live in Switzerland. Maybe you are Swiss and live in the United States. Maybe you are a global citizen, with interests that connect you to the two countries.
We will provide unique coverage from Switzerland about the United States election on November 8 with the aim of explaining how the outcome will matter to you – whether the US chooses its first female US president, with a long political record, or a maverick billionaire, with an anti-establishment agenda. Also at stake are the balances of power in Congress and potential vacancies on the Supreme Court.
You may be among the 35,000 to 40,000 Americans living in Switzerland, or are one of the 80,000-strong Swiss community in the US. A new Democratic- or Republican-led administration in Washington will take decisions that could affect your taxes, business or other binational affairs – or simply people’s perceptions of Americans living in Switzerland.
Security and US interference
Undisputed is the influence that the US exerts on global trade, culture and conflict – the list goes on. As one Swiss writer bemoanedexternal linkexternal linkof the election in a leading Swiss newspaper, “Because what happens in America, will soon be happening to the whole planet.”
The Swiss intelligence service’s latest report describes the Islamic State and jihad travellers as two of the most pressing ‘flashpoints’, to worry over. However, the best efforts of the Swiss to neutralise the possibility of jihadis entering Switzerland will arguably have far less impact than US policy toward the Middle East fashioned under a Clinton or Trump administration.
Over the past few years, Washington has extended the long arm of its law enforcement agencies into Switzerland to punish banks for helping US citizens cheat on their taxes, and to reign in corruption at Zurich-headquartered FIFA, international football’s governing body.
Depending on the priorities and mood under the new US commander-in-chief in 2017, that long arm also could reach into your living room or mobile phone and dictate what you can – and cannot – download. US authorities put Switzerland on a watchlist this year for preventing copyright holders “from enforcing their rights against online infringersexternal link”.
Taxes and business
Nearly one in every five Swiss francs invested abroad goes to the USexternal link. Reciprocally, US investors rank third in importance among foreign investors and account for some $100 billion flowing into Switzerland, according to Swiss government figures.
A more protectionist stance by the new US president could affect the hundreds of Swiss companies on US soil that are collectively responsible for as many as 300,000 jobs.
On the economic front, one of the biggest hot potatoes is the negotiations over the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and European Union, which will likely be passed from Obama on to Clinton or Trump.
The creation of such huge economic blocks will definitely impact Switzerland, and it is shaking the very notion of a level global playing field as has long been promoted by the World Trade Organisationexternal link, based in Geneva.
How will you, as an American in Switzerland, and therefore a de facto ambassador for your country, identify with your country led by a president by the name of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton?
On election night, and on the morning after, our team of reporters – including Americans and dual Swiss-American nationals with first-hand knowledge and insight about our political systems – will talk to people like you at special events across Switzerland. They hope to tap into sentiment from Swiss expats in the US, and to hear from people in American towns with historical Swiss ties.
Nearly half a million Swiss have emigrated to the US since the 18th century. Part of the legacy of many of the Swiss emigres are the 5,000 American towns that now bear Swiss names, as well as their influence on American culture: electric guitar pioneer Adolph Rickenbacker and car company founder Louis Chevrolet, to name just two.
Ten years ago, the Swiss government’s promotional agency, Presence Switzerland, ran a high-profile campaign in the US called Swiss Roots. They got football star Ben Roethlisberger to act as an ambassador and invited him to Switzerland to visit the places of his Swiss ancestors.
As part of the campaign, Switzerland’s 700-year-old Federal Charter travelled outside of the country for the first time, destined for Philadelphia where it was part of an exhibition called ‘Sister Republics’, to highlight the similarities between the two nations.
In our continuing coverage of Switzerland’s direct democracy, we take special notice of its sister institutions in the US, particularly the outcome of the core privilege and responsibility that each citizen holds: the power to affect the future at the ballot box.
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