Shadows in the Swiss Paradise

Issue Date July 2016
Volume 27
Issue 3
Page Numbers 166-75
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Richard Rose claimed in 2000 that threats to Swiss consensus democracy had reached a peak. But in recent years there have been major new developments: shifts in the balance of power; party polarization; changes in public opinion, mainly involving hostility to foreigners; a new abrasive tone to politics and changes in elite behavior. Hence, the country has moved from a paradigmatic case of a consensus democracy to a more polarized, centrifugal and competitive system. To an extent these things have come about because of external pressures and the use made of them by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party. They have left the majority of the Swiss with a deep feeling of alienation and distrust, and the threat of becoming isolated internationally.