Political Change in Switzerland: From Stability to Uncertainty, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Political Change in Switzerland

From Stability to Uncertainty, 1st Edition

By Clive H. Church


196 pages

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Paperback: 9781138386440
pub: 2018-09-18
Hardback: 9781857437805
pub: 2016-06-14
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Political Change in Switzerland explains the striking recent political developments in Switzerland, an important but surprisingly little known and often misunderstood country, aiming to dissipate prevailing myths about Switzerland in its European context. Firstly, the title provides an analysis of the way the practice and processes of Swiss politics have so dramatically changed over the last 25 years, setting out the differences between outside perceptions and changing Swiss realities. Secondly, it discusses how far the country has moved, from the stability of the post-war period to a new era of uncertainty, in which the so called Sonderfall, or special case, no longer seems to apply. In doing so it analyses the populist movement, centred on the Swiss People’s Party, examining its support and tactical operations, as well as the response of the establishment to the challenges the movement poses, both generally and where key questions of policy on foreigners and the EU are concerned. Finally, the title explains how much of this change is related to Europe, and discusses the prospects for Switzerland, Europe and the EU member states in the light of this new Swiss uncertainty.

The way in which globalization has imposed new stresses on Switzerland, both in external policy and social terms, is the key theme of the title. These stresses have, in turn, encouraged the growth of a new populist movement, drawing on social classes previously supportive of other forces, and employing aggressive new tactics, creating a challenge that the establishment has found it hard to counter, so that stability has been compromised. As a result, Switzerland now faces two linked policy challenges, to find ways of accommodating unease about immigration and to devise a realistic and widely acceptable new relationship with the EU. The book’s underlying belief is that these changes have left the country divided and uncertain about its future.

This title offers in-depth analysis of Switzerland's domestic and European politics and policies. It is also innovative in trying both to bring out the European roots of recent political changes in Switzerland and of the challenges these pose to the Swiss status quo and for the evolution of the EU and member states such as the United Kingdom. This is a book for those interested in Switzerland, academics, business people, diplomats, journalists and political commentators.


"Church draws a rich and very detailed picture of 40 years of Swiss politics, as a historian occasionally referring to roots of the past. In many respects, the account on Political Change is in line with Swiss academics’ views, while in others it opens new perspectives. The chapters on the establishment’s response to populism and on the negotiations between Brussels and Bern are particularly sober and reveal illusionary positions of the government, and of Euroskeptics and Europhiles as well."

Wolf Linder, Prof. em. University of Bern, Swiss Political Science Review, 2017 March

Table of Contents

1. Introduction; 2. The Sonderfall Schweiz and Swiss Domestic Politics; 3. The Sonderfall Abroad: Foreign Policy and European Community Relations; 4. An Unsettled Society: Globalization and Socio-Economic Change; 5. A New Place in the World?; 6. The Populist Turn; 7. The Social Basis of the Populist Challenge; 8. The Political Strategies of Swiss Populism; 9. The Establishment Response; 10. Questions about Foreigners; 11. European Questions; 12. Retrospect and Prospects; Bibliography

About the Author

Clive H. Church is Emeritus Professor of European Studies at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England. Educated as a historian at Exeter and London Universities, he has taught History, European Studies and Politics at Trinity College Dublin, the University of Lancaster and, finally, at the University of Kent. He has been visiting and working on Switzerland since 1971. He is the author of The Politics and Government of Switzerland (Palgrave, 2004),an edited volume on Switzerland and the European Union (Routledge, 2007) and (with Randy Head) of A Concise History of Switzerland (Cambridge, 2013) together with a large number of articles, contributions and monitoring reports on Switzerland. He has also written widely on European history, integration and the EU treaties.

About the Series

Europa Country Perspectives

The new Europa Country Perspectives series, from Routledge, examines a wide range of contemporary political, economic, developmental and social issues from areas around the world. Complementing the Europa Regional Surveys of the World series, Europa Country Perspectives will be a valuable resource for academics, students, researchers, policy-makers, business people and anyone with an interest in current world affairs.

While the Europa World Year Book and its associated Regional Surveys inform on and analyse contemporary economic, political and social developments at the national and regional level, Country Perspectives provide in-depth, country-specific volumes written or edited by specialists in their field, delving into a country’s particular situation. Volumes in the series are not constrained by any particular template, but may explore a country’s recent political, economic, international relations, social, defence, or other issues in order to increase understanding.

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Catalonia: A New Independent State in Europe? A Debate on Secession within the European Union - Edited by Xavier Cuadras-Morató

Political Change in Switzerland: From Stability to Uncertainty - Clive Church

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Democracy
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Social Policy
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Government / National
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Nationalism
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Government / General