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Tanner, Jakob

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Die Tageszeitung taz - Germany | 26/10/2007

Jakob Tanner on Swiss populism

Following the election victory of the right-wing populist SVP, Swiss social historian Jakob Tanner explains his theories about the future direction of the Swiss brand of populism. In an interview with Ines Kappert he says: "Switzerland has never been a leftist country. Moreover, throughout the 20th century the fear of foreign infiltration was intense. In the 1930s Swiss nationalists played a pioneering role in the spread of xenophobic, anti-conservative propaganda. But back then it was still possible to control such tendencies. What's different now is that since the 1990s the SVP has been systematically undermining the conservative policies of the state which were always directed towards maintaining a fine balance and upholding liberal values. ... The fact that this small, neutral nation state is able to negotiate with the EU on a bilateral level and can therefore pick and choose what it likes has promoted the view that Switzerland can bolster its prosperity by securing a parasitic, niche function for itself."

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