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Credit Suisse Worry Barometer 2021. What the Swiss are concerned about.

The COVID pandemic and its consequences have topped the list of worries in Switzerland again in 2021, followed closely by environmental protection and climate change, as well as concerns about the AHV insurance / retirement provisions. Only 14% consider unemployment to be a problem.

Download all final reports and infographics

On behalf of Credit Suisse, research institute gfs.bern surveyed Swiss voters once again this year about their worries and the country's identifying characteristics. Just like last year, the COVID pandemic and its impact held the top spot for 2021 (respondents were asked to list their five largest worries). However, the problem is considered somewhat less urgent this year. Instead of a majority (51%) seen last year, now just 40% count the pandemic as one of their five main worries. For 39% of voters, climate change (+10 percentage points or pp) and retirement provision (+2 pp) are also main worries, and for the first time a trio of worries has topped the list.

Also among the five biggest topics for 2021 were the state of relationships with Europe (33%) and the changes (in terms of cost) to healthcare and health insurance plans (25%).

 The top 10 worries of the Swiss in 2021
Resilience in the second phase of the pandemic

Resilience in the second phase of the pandemic

At the time of the survey in July and August 2021, a majority of 65% of voters – unchanged from last year – said that they were currently doing very well or well in economic terms. Over the past 25 years, this figure was exceeded only in 2016 (68%). Even when asked about the future, a clear majority of the voters were optimistic that they could at least maintain (75%) or even improve their current prosperity (12%). Compared to a year ago, the number of voters who expect their financial situation to decline has returned to pre-pandemic levels (10%). The respondents' optimism about their own job security has risen once again year on year. Currently, 87% of employed voters are confident that their jobs are secure, and 34% even say that their jobs are very secure.

Trend with regard to current personal economic situation
Good grades for Switzerland thus far in the crisis, but no profiling

Good grades for Switzerland thus far in the crisis, but no profiling

After a sharp rise in trust in nearly all government and political leaders last year, trust has declined slightly in 2021. For the fourth time in a row, the most trusted agency is the police (63% of respondents expressed their trust; -7 pp), now ranked the same as the Federal Council (-5 pp). Next come the Federal Supreme Court (60%) and the Swiss National Bank (51%). In addition to the trust placed in the Federal Council, there was a significant decline in trust in the Swiss Parliament (Council of States: 42%, -9 pp; National Council: 42%, -6 pp) and in public administration (39%, -9 pp). As before, the churches and the EU were not considered trustworthy by most respondents (both 19%).

Confidence in Swiss institutions in 2021

That said, Switzerland still gets very good grades, even in this fundamental crisis. Fifty-seven percent of voters believe that Switzerland is doing better than any other country during the pandemic, and 69% feel that Switzerland has been a land of solidarity during the crisis. However, there are some doubts as to whether federalism is the best form of organization in times of crisis and uncertainty. Under such circumstances, at least 63% wish for more powers for the federal government and less for the cantons. A majority (55%) also felt that the government did not manage the crisis adequately when the second COVID wave broke out in the fall of 2020. And 75% even felt that the pandemic has shown a need for the advancement of digitalization in politics.

Composure and self-confidence versus Europe

Composure and self-confidence versus Europe

In May 2021, the Federal Council unilaterally stated that the talks dating back to 2014 about an institutional framework agreement between Switzerland and the EU were over. However, the vast majority does not feel there is much resentment towards Switzerland. A good 90% of the population believes that Switzerland has a good or very good image in other countries. Thirty-five percent (–1 pp) even feel that its image has improved a little or a lot in the last 12 months. With specific regard to the end of negotiations, the results of the Worry Barometer could be interpreted as support for Switzerland's foreign policy: A modest majority of 51% felt the decision was definitely correct (21%) or mostly correct (30%), while 40% felt that the Federal Council's response was definitely wrong (16%) or mostly wrong (24%).

Statements about the relationship between Switzerland and the EU

The break in negotiations, however, is not considered offensive by the respondents: Sixty-six percent (–3 pp) of voters consider Swiss foreign policy to be somewhat or very defensive, but not only with regard to the negotiations with the EU, of course. In general, 75% (+2 pp) of the Swiss population wants foreign policy to be more on the offensive. In the last 12 years, this figure in the Worry Barometer was higher only in 2014. The break in negotiations has not changed anything about general attitudes, however. A clear majority of 76% (–1 pp) still thinks that a stable relationship between Switzerland and the EU is somewhat important or very important.

The population thinks the goal of the next round of talks with the EU is clear: The institutional framework agreement must be discussed again. Out of seven available options, 33% chose the institutional framework agreement as the preferred solution. Taking the first three preferred options together, three-fourths of the Swiss (74%) would be in favor of this. A majority would also be in favor of continuing the bilateral agreements without further development (63%) or membership in the EEA (52%). At the moment, joining the EU is not a priority (20%) nor is terminating the bilateral agreements (22%) and going it alone.

Read the final report of the 2021 Worry Barometer

About the Credit Suisse Worry Barometer

What are the major concerns of the Swiss people? How much confidence do they have in political, business, and social leaders? For the past 45 years, Credit Suisse has conducted an annual Worry Barometer survey to examine precisely these issues. With the Worry Barometer, Credit Suisse aims to contribute to the public debate on issues of socio-political relevance. From July to August 2021, the research institute gfs.bern surveyed 1,722 eligible voters across Switzerland on behalf of Credit Suisse. The statistical sampling error is ±2.3 percentage points.