Switzerland: Swiss People's Party attracts 2nd generation immigrants

Switzerland: Swiss People's Party attracts 2nd generation immigrants

The article doesn't say, though, how many of those 2nd generation immigrants are Muslims.


The rightwing Swiss People’s Party is attracting more and more young foreigners at the expense of parties on the left, the traditional base for migrants.

Aleksander, Naveen, Anastasia, Shanky and Shahid: their names or skin colour betray their origins. What they have in common, however, is their allegiance to a party reputed to be the most hostile to foreigners in Switzerland.

“We’ve got nothing against foreigners – we welcome them with open arms!”

This catchphrase, repeated over and over at the People’s Party’s small grassroots gatherings, might look like a slogan, but the growing infatuation of secondos – children of immigrants – and other young foreigners for a party that is otherwise typically agrarian is very real.

“We don’t have statistics, but it’s a very real phenomenon,” said Silvia Bär, a political scientist and member of the party’s central staff in Zurich.

“I’ve been criss-crossing the country for around 20 years and I’ve never seen so many people with foreign origins at our meetings, whether they are members or just sympathisers.”

This trend is confirmed by the party’s vice-president, Yvan Perrin, who adds that the phenomenon is more pronounced in the German-speaking part of the country than in the French-speaking part.

“And we didn’t do anything to attract this demographic. It was they who came to us because they can see the difference between us and the other parties and they find our values appealing,” he said.


Kurt Imhof, a sociologist and specialist in the role of minorities in society, believes it is the centre-left Social Democrat Party’s “enormous deficit concerning patriotism” that plays a central role.

“It’s precisely on this ground that the People’s Party could win over these new activists seduced by traditional Swiss values,” he said.

For Urs Meuli, a sociologist at Zurich University, “the People’s Party’s language, dynamism and uncomplicated methods correspond to what young people drawn to politics expect regarding immigration”.


Imhof concludes that “the working-class activism of the first and second waves of migration from the south of Europe no longer appeals to young people, who prefer to belong to parties on the right, which they equate with social climbing”.


Source: Swiss Info (English)

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