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2015 Credit Suisse Worry Barometer

Unemployment, immigration, and pensions are the key concerns of the Swiss public, according to Credit Suisse's 2015 Worry Barometer survey. People place their greatest confidence in the Federal Supreme Court and the Federal Council. Neutrality is seen as the most important identifying feature, and national pride is more pronounced than ever.

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 in overall terms. In particular, unemployment (including youth unemployment) has been rated as the main worry for more than 10 years – 56 percent of those surveyed cited it as one of their main concerns. Besides pensions, the relationship with foreigners in general (43%) and refugees in particular (35%) has ranked among the main concerns since 2012. The euro exchange rate and the European Union are also viewed as important issues. René Buholzer, Head of Public Policy and Sustainability at Credit Suisse, adds: "The main worries of the Swiss are fairly constant – nonetheless, the Worry Barometer regularly highlights current developments, as for example in the area of European politics. In contrast, the significance of other topics such as health and health insurance has eased considerably over the past ten years."

Strong Confidence in the Political System and the Economy

The greatest confidence of the Swiss public has traditionally been in the Federal Supreme Court and the police. Acceptance of political decision-makers has steadily increased in recent years. The Federal Council is number two in the trust rankings for the first time, and there is a high level of confidence in the National Council and in the Council of States as well. 2015 also saw the banks successfully recover some of the trust lost during the financial and economic crisis.

The Year of Neutrality and National Pride

96 percent of voters are proud of Switzerland’s neutrality – a record high. Accordingly, the Worry Barometer paints the year 2015 – 500 years after the Battle of Marignano and 200 years after the Congress of Vienna – as the year of neutrality. Neutrality is also seen as the country's main strength (48%) and key identifying feature (32%).

In addition to neutrality, security (19%), the landscape (13%), and the banks (12%) are also seen as key characteristics that define Switzerland's identity. However, the respondents perceive egoism as a growing threat to Swiss identity: 71 percent of voters are concerned about this issue.

In terms of politics, many Swiss are proud of the country's neutrality along with its federal constitution (93%), civil rights (89%), independence (84%), as well as federalism and how different groups get along (both 81%). When it comes to the economy, the Swiss are particularly proud of the watchmaking industry (97%), the international reputation for quality and strong international image of Swiss brands (both 96%) as well as SMEs and the mechanical engineering industry (both 95%). Taken together, this results in the highest level of national pride ever recorded in the survey: 94 percent of voters are proud or very proud to be Swiss. National pride has increased significantly in recent years, particularly among people who view themselves as left-leaning in political terms.

Economic Concerns on the Rise

63 percent of Swiss people describe their personal economic situation as good or very good; 86 percent believe that it will remain just as good or improve over the coming year. However, this contrasts with 13 percent who fear a deterioration in their financial circumstances – the highest figure since 2002.

The general economic situation is viewed as slightly less auspicious: In the opinion of 55 percent of those surveyed, it has remained the same year-on-year; 16 percent have observed an improvement, but 28 percent believe they have witnessed a deterioration. When it comes to the year ahead, once again more people fear a deterioration (23%) than expect an improvement (20%). However, a majority of 52 percent is of the opinion that the general economic situation will stay the same despite the negative impact of the strong Swiss franc.

93 percent believe the Swiss economy remains in a fairly good or very good position compared with other countries.

Continuation of Bilateral Agreements

A majority of 64 percent of the population still wants to see their politicians take a more assertive stance in terms of foreign policy. That nevertheless represents a decline of 15 percentage points (pp) compared with the previous year. Thus as many as 30 percent (+13pp) now feel a more restrained approach would be better.

In terms of the relationship with the European Union, a continuation of the bilateral agreements is the top priority for 47 percent of voters and the second-highest priority for a further 13 percent. This is somewhat less than in the previous year, although the proportion of those who want to rescind the bilateral treaties has also declined. A termination of the bilateral agreements is now the top priority for 18 percent and the second-highest priority for 6 percent. As an alternative, they are considerably more likely to support joining the EEA (18 and 28% respectively) than the EU (8 and 15% respectively).

René Buholzer remarks: "Clarification of Switzerland's relationship with the European Union, the country's most important economic partner, will be the most pressing task in the coming legislative period."

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 39 years, Credit Suisse has conducted an annual Worry and Identity Barometer survey to examine these issues. Between July 24 and August 17, 2015, the research institute gfs.bern asked 1,009 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 37.

The detailed analyses of the survey can be found at: www.credit-suisse.com/worrybarometer

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

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