Study finds Swiss more tolerant of right-wing extremism

Around 1,000 people took part in a demonstration against right-wing extremism earlier this year in canton Bern Keystone Archive

Right-wing extremist views are gaining increased acceptance in Switzerland, according to a new report, which blames the rise of populist politicians and conservative groups for the change.

This content was published on June 18, 2001 minutes

Presenting the study in Bern on Monday, the Swiss section of the Society for Threatened Peoples said the Swiss were becoming more open about airing right-wing views in public.

It said some of the views expressed publicly could infringe anti-racism laws and ethical rules governing the press.

The group said a systematic analysis of various right-wing publications showed that in the early 1990s the debate on asylum and the rights of foreigners had been strongly influenced by the Swiss far right.

It said that by the mid-1990s the arguments of the far right had been picked up by mainstream political groups, giving them greater credence.

According to the Society's president, Ruth-Gaby Vermot, a Social Democratic member of parliament, the findings showed the need for a new debate on the country's anti-racism laws.

Vermot also called for foreigners and asylum-seekers in Switzerland to be given the status of a "protected group".

On Friday, the government acknowledged that right-wing extremism posed a growing threat. It announced that it had set aside an extra SFr4 million ($2.25 million) to tackle the problem following a three-fold rise in the number of right-wing incidents last year.

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