Let's get to it!
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Let's get to it!

Almost nowhere in the world do people have as much faith in their institutions as in Switzerland. The army and the police continued to gain trust while political parties lost some.

The quality of Swiss institutions has long been a cornerstone of Switzerland's success. The strong Swiss franc is a testament to international investors' confidence in Swiss stability. The Swiss themselves also have deep trust in their institutions. According to the OECD, no other country's citizens trust their government more than the Swiss do (80 percent, global average: 42 percent). According to the European Social Survey, the Swiss believe the police generally make fair, just decisions – only four out of the 20 countries studied rate the police higher, and only slightly.

Swiss confidence in the nation's institutions is very broad. Topping the Worry Barometer's list are the judiciary (Federal Supreme Court), followed by the various bodies of the executive branch (Federal Council, administration/public authorities, police, and the army), and the legislative branch (National Council and Council of States). More than half of Swiss voters place their trust in the Swiss National Bank, employee organizations, paid newspapers, and banks. The biggest winners of this year were the police and the army (both +14 percentage points). Crime rates have been declining steadily for many years, a fact that may be attributed to the police's work. The army may have benefited from rising geopolitical uncertainties and has been steadily gaining trust since 2004, when the trust level was 31 percent (today it is 63 percent). A comparable survey ("Security 2018") conducted by the Swiss army and the ETH revealed that people's trust in both institutions has been growing for several years now.

The Swiss National Bank's trust rating also increased significantly (to 63 percent, +13 percentage points). However, it should be borne in mind that last year's figure was unusually low. The trust level has consistently been at or above 60 percent in previous years.

Confidence in Swiss institutions in 2018

The Losers

While the level of trust in most media was more (paid newspapers) or less (radio and TV) consistent with last year, trust in free newspapers declined steeply (33 percent, –19 percentage points). That matches the results of the Credit Suisse Youth Barometer, in which 16- to 25-year-olds indicated that they rely less on free papers for news. The internet also lost credibility at a similar rate (35 percent, –19 percentage points). Widespread discussion of fake news in the last 12 months may have been a factor in both of these cases. Swiss voters also expressed less trust in the European Union (34 percent, –16 percentage points). Current voter feelings about Europe are ambivalent. For more on that, see our discussion of Switzerland's foreign relations beginning on page 66. Finally, political parties seem to have gambled away a great deal of voters' trust (39 percent, –13 percentage points), which fits with the results of the Worry Barometer (see page 54). These results indicate that the biggest problems and priorities from the perspective of Swiss voters are domestic issues like AHV (Old Age and Survivors' Insurance) and health insurers. One might conclude that respondents feel policymakers have not done their job. But it's not all bad news for politics: Interest in politics has never been so high, with 29 percent of respondents saying they are very interested and another 45 percent saying they are somewhat interested in political issues. Swiss citizens seem to be aware that there are important matters at hand and they are clearly willing to help work on finding solutions.

Interest in politics: 2006 to present

In keeping with the somewhat critical view of policymakers, pride in Switzerland is down sharply (79 percent, –11 percentage points). The last time it was that low was in the wake of the financial crisis (2011). Survey respondents' expectations of political institutions could best be summed up with this statement: "There's a lot to be done. So let's get to it!"