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. At 39%, environmental pollution (environmental protection, climate change, environmental disasters) is Switzerland's new number-one concern (respondents were each asked to name their five top concerns). This figure is the same as last year; however, the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic – which easily topped the list in both 2020 (51%) and 2021 (40%) – has evidently become just an everyday problem at 13% and disappeared from the list of top concerns means the environment has moved up to the number-one spot this year. The topic of AHV/retirement provision lies in second place at 37%.
Swiss voters are less optimistic about the (economic) future than was the case only a couple of years ago. However, this is not primarily down to fear of losing their job: On the contrary, unemployment has fallen out of the top ten concerns for the first time since 1988. Rather, the uncertainty revolves around the supply situation as well as whether and how the standard of living to which people are accustomed can be maintained amid the current circumstances and multiple crises. Voters' assessment of their own economic situation does not yet show any deviation versus previous years, with 65% (+0 pp) of respondents describing it as good or very good, and only 6% (+0 pp) as bad or very bad. However, a look at the coming 12 months shows a significantly different picture: No less than 19% (+9 pp) fear a worsening of their personal circumstances – the highest percentage in the survey's 27-year history.
Against this background, it is reassuring to note that at the same time trust in the three important institutions of the Federal Council (68%), police (67%), and the Federal Supreme Court (66%) is broad-based and stable. At a lower level, the same applies to the other institutions mentioned in the survey, such as the Swiss National Bank, Council of States, National Council, and political parties – indeed there is even evidence of a slight upward trend here. Although pride in being Swiss has tended to dip slightly, it remains very high at 77% (–1 pp). The armed forces have been the biggest gainers in terms of confidence (+8 pp to 48%), reflecting an increased need for security in uncertain geopolitical times.
In the eyes of respondents, therefore, discussions on an institutional framework agreement must continue given that 76% consider stable relations between Switzerland and the EU to be important. The same figure is arrived at for the Bilateral Agreements themselves, meaning a clear majority consider it important to achieve a breakthrough in negotiations with the EU. Many are looking to the Federal Council in particular, with 40% saying responsibility lies with the national government and 21% with the Swiss delegates in Brussels. Only 14% consider the EU to be chiefly responsible. Altogether, therefore, a clear majority of 61% of eligible voters believe that the ball is now primarily in the Swiss government's court when it comes to developing ties with the EU. This opinion has been voiced by members of all political parties.