Leftwing extremism more popular among youth

A masked man runs in front of riot police after a Labour Day demonstration in Zurich in 2011 Keystone

While many young Swiss support extreme political ideologies – whether leftwing, rightwing or Islamist – few approve of extremist violence, a survey has found. 

This content was published on November 6, 2018 - 14:54
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Despite a high rejection of capitalism (47.1% of respondents) and the police and the state (21.7%), only 8.1% approved of violence against the police, according to a study on extremist attitudes published on Tuesday by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences and the School of Social Work Fribourg. 

The survey, which questioned 8,317 people aged 17-18 in ten cantons in 2017, showed that leftwing extremism was more widespread in Switzerland among young people than rightwing or Islamist extremism. 

Extremism was defined as attitudes and forms of behaviour reflected in the rejection of the democratic constitutional state and the use of violence to replace it with another political order. 

A total of 7% of respondents could be classed as leftwing extremists, with 5.6% backing communism and 4.4% saying they had carried out leftwing extremist violence in the past 12 months. 

Dictatorships and Islamism 

The analysis of rightwing extremism applied only to those respondents without a migration background, who made up almost half of the total. 

Of these, 5.9% could be classed as rightwing extremists: 25% said they were xenophobic, 21% nationalist, 15.8% were hostile to Muslims and 15.4% were racist. In addition, 5.4% backed a dictatorship, 7.4% were prepared to carry out violence against those on the political left and 4.8% were prepared to carry out violence against foreigners. 

Of the Muslim respondents, only 2.7% could be considered Islamist extremists but 43% had a negative view of Western society. “From their point of view, Muslims are oppressed by the West and, in their eyes, exploitation by the Western world is responsible for violence and war in Islamic countries,” said study co-author Dirk Baier. 

In addition, 28.8% were hostile towards non-traditional Muslims. However, only 3.7% were hostile towards Swiss people. 

The report noted that since the ten cantons had been pre-selected and many schools did not want to take part in the study, it would be hard to apply the results to the entire country.


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