© 2011 Aaron

Not exactly welcoming

Switzerland can be paradoxical. At once, it maintains a certain soft and sweet mystique, welcoming tourists with festivals, hospitality and more – and – can demonstrate a very unwelcoming response to an increasingly non-native population fueled by business and a love, by many, of the prosperity herein. Switzerland certainly benefits economically from this.

As expats, we’re not immigrating. My assignment defines an end date. That said, I’ve gotten used to a more or less open society in the U.S., so this kind of messaging is provocative and feels almost hateful. However, I must remember that the U.S. is a democracy, whereas Switzerland is a “direct democracy”, and the “melting pot” sentiment and philosophy in the U.S. ebbs and flows. The general flavor of political advertising in the U.S. could also use some refinement. Also, if you read our previous post regarding political advertising, certain Swiss political leaders do show their humorous and polite sides (after voting, several posters were dedicated to elected officials thanking voters).

The site of the SVP poster certainly makes an interesting followup to Swiss National Day.

The Swiss People’s Party (SVP) has long promoted a strict stance on immigration, primarily due to its position against illegal residents, rising asylum numbers and fear of further burdening the social welfare programs – arguments sound familiar?

One thing is for certain, they don’t show signs like this in the tourism websites or expat brochures. We do, however, occasionally hear some locals lamenting the influx – either directly or gesturally. The “ausländer” tension is, at times, palpable. The warmth can be equally so.

We do our best not to “fit in” because we aren’t genuinely Swiss. We try to speak the langage when we can, behave politely, be respectful of the rules (there are many), and follow Christ as our guide. Thankfully, He has blessed us with friends who have taught us and enriched our view of the local culture. Our best friends are Christians first and beholden to their culture and political views, second.


  1. Marc
    Posted August 3, 2011 at 9:50 am | #

    I wondered whether the SVP would tone down their anti-immigration message slightly after the tragedy in Norway. I guess this answers that.

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