Mon Sep 3rd, 2007 at 04:00:47 AM EST
A hat-tip to someone, for posting this in yesterday's Salon: most people in Switzerland are tolerant and open-minded towards those residents who hail from other lands, and over 20% of the Swiss population is foreign born. In fact, what would Switzerland be without business with the "Ausländ" and the diversity of "Ausländers" in their culture? However, there is a vocal minority in Switzerland (the far-right wing SVP - or Swiss Volks Partei), that is overtly stating racist and xenophobic themes, in order to play on people's fear to gain political power. This piece of racist crap is the SVP's PR campaign for the coming parliamentary election:
I have been very upset by this propaganda, and have been waiting for a political party in Switzerland to stand up and denounce this campaign...FINALLY!! A leader with backbone steps forward!: swissinfo - Swiss People's Party is accused of "racist" campaign
Switzerland's biggest political party, the rightwing Swiss People's Party, has come under renewed fire for its hard-hitting election campaign attacking foreigners.
On Wednesday Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey denounced posters depicting three white sheep booting a black sheep out of the country as "irresponsible" and liable to incite racial hatred.
"I think it is important that there are people in this country who have the courage to stand up and denounce this type of campaign, which to be quite frank disgusts me. It disgusts me because it stirs up hatred. They are racist campaigns," Calmy-Rey, a member of the centre-left Social Democrats, told Swiss-French radio.
The "black sheep" posters underpin a People's Party initiative to expel foreign criminals, which was launched on August 1 - Swiss National Day - three months ahead of October's parliamentary elections.
And now, a UN intervention:
On Thursday Swiss Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin revealed that the UN special rapporteur on racism, Doudou Diène, had contacted the Swiss government seeking an explanation. Couchepin added that the government was preparing its response.
The letter, which was sent three weeks ago, was co-signed by the UN special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Jorge Bustamante. Earlier this year Diène published a report, castigating Switzerland for its "political climate influenced by xenophobic tendencies".
Of course, now the SVP is crying "politics":
Roman Jäggi, spokesman for the Swiss People's Party, hit back at the latest criticism, describing the poster campaign as "completely fair".
"It is not racist," he said. "We have a big problem with violence and in particular youth violence, and foreign criminals are a big factor," he told swissinfo.
Jäggi said it was reprehensible that the Swiss president had attacked a poster campaign by another party, adding that Calmy-Rey was clearly electioneering on behalf of the Social Democrats.
The People's Party dismissed Diène's intervention as "worthless", describing the UN special rapporteur on racism as a troublemaker who never had a good word to say about Switzerland.
Here is an observation from a political scientist in Geneva:
Pascal Sciarini, professor of political science at Geneva University: "the People's Party's recent electoral success is down to its tough line on foreigners, the European Union and the UN, and it is now a prisoner of this strategy."They have to keep the fires burning, and that means they have to come up with new ideas and at the same time harden their stance," he said.
Sciarini cited the initiatives against minarets and foreign criminals as evidence of the People's Party's desire to push an ever-harder line and to keep control of the immigration debate. "They are getting more intelligent and more subtle, and are the best when it comes to marketing their policies and attracting the media's attention," he said. "They are polarising people more and more: you are either for them or very much against."
So the politics of hate and division (let's call it the spread of "Bush democracy") are up for a vote in Switzerland...and how will the Swiss respond? We will soon find out...but I can only hope that the good, tolerant and humanitarian side of the Swiss steps forward. Stay tuned for the October elections...