Swiss Elections Unmask Bigotry

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For most of us, Switzerland evokes images of green hillsides, rotund dairy cows, and Julie
Andrews, not rock-throwing protesters and tear gas. But that was the scene in Bern this weekend when demonstrators from the country’s
ultra-right wing party clashed with counter-protesters and riot police.

Tensions in Switzerland have been escalating in the run-up to the October 21 general elections. At
the center of the debate are the country’s immigration policies. A campaign poster for the powerful right-wing Swiss People’s Party shows three white sheep kicking away a single black
sheep, with the caption, “To Create Security.” Twenty percent of Switzerland’s population is
foreign born (many newcomers are from war-torn countries like Kosovo and Rwanda), and a staggering 70% of its prison population is as well. The Swiss People’s Party,
which holds the most seats in the country’s Parliament, claims these figures are an indication that immigrants are
prone to criminality and should be kicked out of Switzerland. But this simplistic logic brings about a chicken-before-the-egg question: Is the bigotry that is fueling Switzerland’s current political climate also what is sending an inordinate amount of its immigrants to jail?

The U.N. has condemned the inflammatory poster and the Swiss People’s Party proposal to deport foreign-born criminals and their families. All of this is set against the backdrop of pristine perfection for which Switzerland is famous. Zurich and Geneva rank first and second for cities with the best quality of life worldwide.

—Celia Perry

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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