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Swiss feel new surge of patriotism

Swiss products are all the rage at the moment Keystone

Two-thirds of Swiss are proud of their nationality, according to a study by the GfS research institute.

This content was published on March 5, 2004 - 16:28

The findings also showed that most people were willing to pay more for Swiss-made products.

The GfS, which interviewed 1,006 people, says the findings point to a “new patriotism” among the Swiss.

However, it stressed that this should not be confused with the recent political shift to the right. The rightwing Swiss People’s Party emerged triumphant in last year’s elections, with its figurehead, Christoph Blocher, voted into the cabinet.

The institute said that patriotism was a general phenomenon which was often devoid of political meaning for the Swiss.

“The unhindered move towards patriotism is an allusion to a change in society,” said the GfS in a statement.“National pride [is no longer] ideological and the proviso of rightwing parties."

“Swissness”

Around 70 per cent of those interviewed thought that Switzerland - and the concept of "Swissness" - were in fashion at the moment.

Researchers added that the perception of Switzerland was generally the same irrespective of regions, age, sex, and political affiliations.

“The only slight differences were that older people were more proud of being Swiss and the [centre-left] Social Democrat supporters were a little less so,” said the institute.

Extreme

But Cintia Meier, a sociologist from Fribourg University, says being happy to be Swiss is more about arrogance than pride.

“This is a special [kind of patriotism],” Meier told swissinfo. “It is not the normal brand of patriotism where you’re proud of your country, but one where you believe you are better than everybody else.”

Meier sees the rise in patriotism as a reaction to the negative events of the past few years, such as the collapse of the former national carrier, Swissair.

She also cites the economic downturn, social problems and the political swing to the right as reasons for the surge in national pride.

“There were so many negative events over the past few years that Switzerland has had to find its sense of self-worth again,” said Meier.

Made in Switzerland

The survey found that patriotism was also reflected in the preference for Swiss products and services. Most of those who felt patriotic said they also preferred Swiss products, for which they were prepared to pay a higher price.

Swiss businesses also have a good reputation in the eyes of most Swiss.

More than half thought that the Swiss pharmaceutical, watchmaking and metal businesses had a good image. This also applied to the food giant, Nestlé, the national carrier, Swiss, and the major banks.

Home Sweet Home

Meanwhile, less than a quarter those questioned said they could imagine living in another country.

Political stability, including security and democracy, were the attributes that appealed most to Swiss citizens. Quality of life ranked second, with high importance placed on the countryside and cleanliness.

The social security system – currently under debate as the government tries to reform pensions – figured third on the list, a result the institute called “surprising”.

The research was carried out in the last two months of 2003 on behalf of the national carrier, Swiss.

swissinfo

In brief

The Swiss were also asked to describe typical Swiss characteristics:

17% said reliability, 13% said conservative in the negative sense of the word and 10% said being down-to-earth.

Other qualities named were being close to nature (8%), close-mindedness (8%), assiduousness (4%), open-mindedness (4%) and wealth (3%).

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