How do the Swiss really feel about foreigners?

How do the Swiss really feel about foreigners?
Overall, Swiss people are tolerant of foreigners.Photo by Photo by STEFAN WERMUTH / AFP
As part of a larger survey on diversity in Switzerland, researchers examined what the Swiss public thinks of foreign nationals living in their midst, and what rights they should have.

Some interesting facts emerge from the study carried out by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO).

The research was intended to “ gauge attitudes towards statements that are deliberately provocative”, the FSO explained of the study released on Thursday.

It added that the answers “indicate the level of openness of the population, by focusing on the attitudes toward foreigners’ rights and on their behaviours – both real and imaginary”.

As the chart below shows, 70 percent of respondents “strongly agree” or “rather agree” that foreign nationals should have the right to have their family living with them in Switzerland; 59 percent believe second-generation foreigners should be granted Swiss citizenship at birth; and 50 percent said non-nationals should be allowed to participate in the country’s political process.

READ MORE: Will Swiss-born foreigners be granted automatic citizenship?

And 70 percent think foreigners should not have to leave the country when jobs in Switzerland are scarce.

The majority of respondents (70 percent) also believe foreigners are essential for Switzerland’s economy and that they do the work that Swiss don’t want to do.

Additionally, 75 percent disagree with the claim of rightwing groups that foreigners are responsible for any increase in the unemployment rate, and more than half (57 percent) reject the notion — also widespread in the rightwing circles — that foreigners abuse social benefits.

Clear majority of respondents (77 percent) don’t believe foreigners create unsafe environment in the streets and 76 percent reject the notion that the presence of foreign children in schools causes decline in the level of education.

However, the Swiss feel that foreign population poses some threats.

Foremost among them (62 percent) is that foreigners will demand special rights and that they will cause political unrest (60 percent).

Half of respondents are worried that foreigners will undermine Swiss culture and traditions.

The study also examined why some Swiss feel uncomfortable in the presence of foreigners.

Nearly 20 percent attributed their discomfort to the “itinerant way of life”, 11 percent to language and 9 percent to religion.

Only 5 percent said they were uncomfortable with skin colour and 7 percent with nationality.

Other study findings can be seen here.

READ MORE: I thought I was Swiss? How being mistaken as a national can put you on the road to citizenship


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