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Swiss Euroscepticism: Local Variations on Wider Themes

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Abstract:

Although the term is rarely used in Switzerland, the country is more involved in Euroscepticism than is often appreciated. It can be found, with a Swiss accent, in public opinion, in direct democratic votes and in day to day politics, if not in the press. If general attitudes to Europe are often nuanced there is also a fierce anti-European discourse. However, this is part of a wider Swiss creed of disengagement from international political involvement. Extreme anti-Europeanism is orchestrated less by the mainstream parties of the centre right than by small parties, by the Swiss Peoples' Party, and by special organisations like AUNS, often set up to fight referenda. It draws most of its support from the lower middle class, especially in German speaking Switzerland. Overall, it is a movement of the right, which it has helped to revitalise. In so doing it has further changed the party system in Switzerland. However, its roots go beyond the rise of the far right. AntiEuropeanism has helped to change policy inside Switzerland and is likely to go on doing this. It might influence European developments and our thinking about the nature of Euroscepticism.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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