Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Swiss Quota Vote - Part One

You may have read about the Swiss vote to reinstate immigration quotas for European Union nationals.

As a US-born naturalized Swiss citizen and bicontinental resident, I'm uniquely positioned to provide some much needed context.

In spite of their country's central location in the European continent, the Swiss have pretty much managed to stay out of trouble for the past 500 years or so.

In the meantime, their neighbors butchered each other in a series of wars that culminated in the two World Wars. Finally, after over 60 million human beings lost their lives in World War II, European countries decided that trade should replace warfare as the continent's favorite pastime, planting the seeds to the super-national structure that would evolve into the European Union (EU).

While more and more countries joined the EU, the Swiss never felt the need to join. In the 1990s, when they were asked to vote on whether they ought to join, they politely declined.

Yes, they were asked. That's because Switzerland enjoys a unique form of direct democracy that puts the USA and most EU countries to shame. Citizens, not politicians, really do decide.

After saying "no, thank you" to EU membership, the Swiss quickly realized that the idea of a continental-scale common market with no trade barriers was not too shabby. So they negotiated a number of so-called bilateral agreements with the European Union. This way, Switzerland became economically integrated while remaining politically isolated. Who ever said you can't have your cake and eat it, too?

This was the basic context; stay tuned for part two, where we'll tell you more about the vote itself.


  1. Christa taking dictation from BrunoFebruary 11, 2014 at 8:57 AM

    You are very thoughtful and well-informed, Tootsie! I look forward to reading more of your musings on world affairs. Wags from stateside.

  2. Thanks for sharing this. I did hear this and wondered more about it.

  3. I have always thought the swiss were the smartest people on the planet.

  4. Hello Tootsie *waving paws* ! Mum loved your explanation of the Swiss vote to our non-Swiss furry friends ! We'll stay tuned for part two ! Purrs

  5. Top marks for this educational post Tootsie. We too are staying tuned.
    Toodle pip!

  6. Very interesting. I actually don't no a lot and Switzerland so I'm excited to read more!

  7. Great info - always 7 photos -- look forward to more.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...