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Queen's University
 

Multiculturalism Policies in Contemporary Democracies


Switzerland

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TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 1 1


1. Constitutional, legislative or parliamentary affirmation of multiculturalism at the central and / or regional and municipal levels and the existence of a government ministry, secretariat or advisory board to implement this policy in consultation with ethnic communities

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • The Swiss Constitution of 1999 notes that the Swiss people and the cantons are “determined to live together with mutual consideration and respect for their diversity” and that the constitution “shall promote the common welfare, sustainable development, internal cohesion and cultural diversity of the country.” Although Switzerland is recognized as a diverse society, this may be more a reflection of its multilingualism than of the presence of ethnic and racial minorities, and within official government documents there is no mention of multiculturalism, per se.
  • Indeed, Switzerland has traditionally had high levels of immigration, but discourse around migration is quite hardened, and policies toward undocumented migrants and family reunification have become more restrictive (Kaya 2005). Immigration is often framed as a “problem” and links are typically drawn to crime and the difficulties that migrants face in entering the labour market. Still, in a recent report on cultural policy in Switzerland, Weckerle (2010, 13) notes that “being a multilingual and multicultural society, Switzerland is very much concerned with the integration of various cultural groups, among them Swiss and foreign cultures.”
  • Local entities and the cantons are chiefly responsible for integration, but the federal government has become more involved. An article on integration was inserted in the 2000 Swiss Residency Law, and this was followed, in 2004, with the introduction of the Foreign Nationals Act, which amended conditions for acquiring Swiss citizenship and revised some of the regulations related to integration (Kaya 2005). The revised regulations set out the goals of integration which include “encouraging foreigners to become familiar with the organisation of the Swiss state and society; facilitating coexistence based on a set of basic common values and behaviour; creating favourable conditions for equal opportunities and the participation of foreigners in social life; and regulating the allocation of government subsidies for integration” (Kaya 2005, 9).
  • The 2007 Ordinance on Integration (OIE) further stipulates the responsibilities of immigrants, which include learning the language, acquiring knowledge about Swiss society, culture, values and the legal system, participating in mandatory integration measures, and entering into an integration agreement, as required (Federal Authorities of the Swiss Confederation 2007).
  • The ordinance is said to be based on the principles of “encourage” and “demand,” with immigrants expected to abide by integration requirements and the state developing various measures to assist them; the latter largely relates to structural matters, such as vocational training, social services, and the like. Little is said about the responsibilities of Swiss citizens and the host society or about the preservation or maintenance of newcomers’ cultural heritage.
  • At an institutional level, the Federal Committee on Foreigners and the Federal Committee on Refugees were replaced by the Federal Commission for Migration Affairs in 2008. The Commission has 30 elected members, many of whom have a migration background; it provides advice to the federal government on migration policy, but this largely does not relate to multiculturalism (Kaya 2005).


2. The adoption of multiculturalism in school curriculum

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Educational offerings vary widely in Switzerland, as curriculum is the responsibility of the 26 cantons (Swiss Conferences of Cantonal Ministers of Education 2010a). Weckerle (2010) suggests that there is increasing interest in intercultural education, and this is often undertaken in conjunction with language classes. However, it would appear that the interest is more along the lines of “cultural appreciation” than multiculturalism.


3. The inclusion of ethnic representation / sensitivity in the mandate of public media or media licensing

   No, not explicitly, although mention is made of cultural diversity.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • The Swiss Public Broadcasting Corporation is mandated to produce and broadcast programs in the country’s four languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. It produces six programs in the country’s four languages. A dual channel system also allows more channels in English (Weckerle 2010).
  • Article 93 of the Swiss Constitution pertains to radio and television; section 2 states that “radio and television shall contribute to education and cultural development, to the free forming of opinion, and to the entertainment of listeners and viewers. They shall take into account the particularities of the country and the needs of the Cantons. They shall present events factually, and reflect diverse opinions fairly and adequately” (quoted in Weckerle 2010, 21).
  • Meanwhile, the federal Law on Radio and Television, which was passed in 1991, commits to promoting “understanding, cohesion and exchange between different parts of the country, linguistic communities, cultures, and social groups, and to reflect the particular needs of the country and the cantons.” The law goes on to say that priority should be given to the development and creation of Swiss culture.
  • Although mention is made of cultural development, cultural groups, and diverse opinions, there is little evidence that the reflection of ethnic minority communities is among the objectives pursued by the public broadcaster or in media licensing.


4. Exemptions from dress codes (either by statute or court cases)

   No evidence found.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • In 2001 in Dahlab v. Switzerland, the European Court of Human Rights upheld a Geneva primary school’s decision to terminate the employment of a teacher who insisted on wearing the hijab. The court ruled that prohibiting teachers from wearing visible religious symbols in state schools “may be considered justified in principle and proportionate to the stated aim of protecting the rights and freedoms of others, public order and public safety.”
  • In February 2010, a regional basketball association rejected a Lucerne player’s bid to have uniform requirements amended to allow her to wear a hijab. Although the requirements were presented as religiously neutral, they allow only the wearing of a shirt and shorts; jewellery, headgear and other items are excluded. No exemption for the hijab was made, and a Swiss court upheld the decision (Buaras 2010).
  • Nonetheless, earlier that year, the cantonal Parliament of Zurich rejected a proposal to ban Muslim girls from wearing the headscarf in schools. This followed a federal referendum vote on banning minarets, which was supported by 57.5 percent of the population; the ban has not yet been enacted as law, however (Evrova 2010).


5. Allows of dual citizenship

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 1 1

Evidence:

  • Since 1992, Switzerland has allowed immigrants to acquire Swiss citizenship without having to renounce their original citizenship (Faist and Gerdes 2008). The procedure for acquiring Swiss citizenship is quite complicated, however, with a federal naturalization permit required, in addition to a permit from the municipality or canton; potential citizens must meet requirements at both of these levels in order to naturalize (Kaya 2005).
  • In 2005, the Federal Office for Migration was asked by the Department of Justice and Police to prepare a report on citizenship; one aspect of the report was an examination of dual nationality. Although there were suggestions to end the practice of permitting dual nationality, these were not taken up (Kaya 2005).


6. The funding of ethnic group organizations or activities

   No, although ethnic organizations could apply for funding to undertake various integration initiatives.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Since 2001, the federal government has annually provided funding ranging from 10–14 million Swiss francs to support a number of integration projects. Between 2008 and 2011, the priority areas for funding are language and training, specialized integration services, and innovative projects and best practices. Although ethnocultural organizations could apply for these funds, they are not specifically designed to support ethnic activities, and they are not explicitly encouraged to apply (Federal Office for Migration 2010).


7. The funding of bilingual education or mother-tongue instruction

   No. Where courses exist, the emphasis is on facilitating the learning of one of Switzerland's official languages.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Switzerland has four national and three official languages; as such, language remains an important issue (Weckerle 2010). Schooling takes place in the language of the canton in which the student resides, and language training is an important component. This typically includes training in one of Switzerland’s other official languages, as well as English (Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education 2010a).
  • In 1991, the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education adopted a recommendation that mother-tongue instruction be provided to immigrant children as a means of increasing their fluency in one of Switzerland’s official languages (Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education 2010b). This commitment was reaffirmed in a 2004 national strategy on language education (Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education 2010b). Because it is the cantons that are responsible for education policy, there is wide variation. However, the 2007 Inter-cantonal Agreement on the Harmonization of Compulsory Education does outline some guiding principles. Among these is a commitment to the teaching of languages (including foreign languages), as well as an assertion that the cantons will provide language and culture of origin (LCO) courses, organized by country of origin and linguistic community, to students with immigrant backgrounds. As a result, LCO courses are now available in many cantons (Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education 2010b).
  • It should be noted that in the debate on integration in Switzerland, much attention is focused on the need for immigrants to learn the host language as quickly as possible. The revision of the Foreign Nationals Act in 2004 explicitly emphasizes that immigrants must take responsibility for their own integration, particularly with respect to learning the national language (Kaya 2005, 11).


8. Affirmative action for disadvantaged immigrant groups

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • The Swiss Constitution prohibits discrimination on several grounds, including racial and ethnic origins, and there are a variety of anti-discrimination initiatives (see also Weckerle 2010). In its section on equal rights, however, there is only mention of equality between men and women and of alleviating inequalities for persons with disabilities. No mention is made of ethnic or racial minorities. While there is some evidence of quota policies for women (particularly in university hirings), no evidence could be found of similar programs for other minorities.

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