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2014 Credit Suisse Worry Barometer

Economic Optimism, EU Skepticism, and National Pride

According to Credit Suisse's 2014 Worry Barometer survey, the majority of Swiss people are mostly pleased with their economic situation. They have a keen sense of national pride and have the most confidence in the Swiss National Bank and the Federal Supreme Court. Their main worry remains unemployment. Skepticism about all foreign influence – the immigration of workers and refugees, along with the country's relationship to the European Union – remains very high, according to the survey. The respondents want to see a more assertive stance in politics abroad.

Each year on behalf of Credit Suisse, research institute gfs.bern surveys Swiss people about their worries and the country's identifying features. A long-term comparison shows that little has changed. For instance, unemployment has consistently been the main worry for more than ten years. Immigration issues have been the second largest worry for some years now. Other major worries include pension issues/state retirement provision (AHV) and health care.

René Buholzer, Head of Public Policy and Sustainability Affairs at Credit Suisse, remarked, "It is not surprising that unemployment is again the main worry of the Swiss people this year, despite the fact that only 7% are worried about losing their job. Concerns about unemployment have always been founded more on people’s general perception rather than their own personal situation. There is a clear correlation between how much people worry about unemployment and the actual unemployment rate."

Optimistic Economic View
60% of Swiss people described their economic situation as "good" or "very good" in the Worry Barometer survey; only 7% answered with "bad" or "very bad." 92% believe that, in the next 12 months, their financial situation will remain just as good, or even improve. 7% took a pessimistic view. According to 81% of voters, the general economic situation has stayed the same or improved, while 17% feel it has deteriorated. There is some optimism about the developments for the coming year: 20% anticipate an improvement while 15% expect the situation to worsen. However, most people (62%) assume things will remain as they are.

Foreign Relations Are Cause for Concern
There are four worries related to foreign policy among the 2014 Worry Barometer's top ten. The biggest threats to Swiss identity are also considered to be external: the EU's problems (76%), immigration (73%), and international opening (70%). What about the future relationship to the European Union? Fifty percent of voters feel that continuing bilateral agreements takes first priority and another 16% feel it takes second priority. Twenty-four percent feel that the bilateral agreements should be terminated as a first priority and 7% feel they should be terminated as a second priority. European Economic Area accession (12% / 29%) would be preferable to EU accession (4% / 10%). In terms of international negotiations, voters are rallying their politicians. Fifty-nine percent feel that Switzerland should take a more assertive stance in its foreign policy and 20% feel it should take a much more assertive stance; only 17% in all feel that foreign policy should be somewhat or much more defensive.

René Buholzer, Head of Public Policy and Sustainability Affairs at Credit Suisse, remarked, "Concerns about immigration issues have risen in relation to integration and the free movement of persons. In this regard, those surveyed want Switzerland's politicians to take a confident stance in negotiations concerning the implementation of the ‘Against Mass Immigration’ initiative."

Great National Pride
90% of the population is proud to be Swiss. This is a four-point increase versus 2013, setting a new record. This high level of national pride is also reflected in how proud people are of Switzerland's politics and economy: 96% are very, or fairly, proud of neutrality; 96% of independence; 92% of citizens' rights; 91% of multiple linguistic cultures; 90% of the Federal Constitution; 86% of federalism; 81% of social partnerships; 96% of the watch industry; 95% of the international reputation for quality; 95% of the strong brand names; 94% of the machinery industry; 94% of successful SMEs; 91% of research; 89% of the innovative edge; 89% of the pharmaceuticals industry; and 82% of public service companies.

Confidence in the National Bank and Federal Supreme Court
Swiss voters have a great deal of confidence in the Swiss National Bank (64%), the Federal Supreme Court (62%), and the police force (60%). Of the political decision-makers, the Federal Council (57%) is the most trusted, closely followed by the National Council (56%) and the Council of States (55%), while the political parties (42%) lag the furthest behind as always. In terms of media, TV (59%) leads radio (54%). Electronic media is followed by newspapers, with the free papers (49%) not far ahead of the paid ones (48%).

A New Sense of Belonging in Switzerland
While in 2011, 53% of the population still rated their municipality in first or second place, three years later this figure is just 29%. Thirty-five percent rank the language region in first or second place and 41% rank their canton first or second. These units have lost ground since 2011 as well. The country as a whole benefits from this trend: Switzerland as a nation has replaced the municipality as the predominant identification factor. While 39% of the population ranked a sense of belonging to Switzerland in first or second place in 2011, this figure is now 66%.

Worry barometer: a representative Survey
What are the key concerns of people in Switzerland? How much confidence do they have in decision-makers in the fields of politics, business, and society? For the past 38 years, Credit Suisse has conducted an annual Worry and Identity Barometer survey to examine these issues. Between July 28 and August 16, 2014, the research institute gfs.bern asked 1,010 voters throughout Switzerland about their concerns and other issues on behalf of Credit Suisse. Respondents could select their five most important concerns from a list of 34.

The survey results may be reproduced provided that "Credit Suisse Worry Barometer" is quoted as the source.