Multiculturalism Policies in Contemporary Democracies

Multiculturalism Policies

in Contemporary Democracies

Multiculturalism Policies

in Contemporary Democracies

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Switzerland

flag of Switzerland
   
TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 1 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.

   
Affirmation Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 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 and attitudes around migration have hardened, and policies toward undocumented migrants and family reunification have become more restrictive (Kaya 2005; Ackermann and Frietag 2015). 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. Indeed, Swiss voters narrowly supported a “Stop Mass Immigration” initiative in a 2014 referendum that would impose limits on migration into Switzerland (ECAS 2017). This led to another referendum in 2020 on the EU-Swiss agreement on the Free Movement of Persons with the EU, but voters opted to maintain the free movement principle (Henley 2020). 
  • 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). As SWI (2019), a branch of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SRG) notes, “The Swiss government’s policy towards foreigners is one of integration – seeking to involve newcomers in the country’s daily life – instead of creating so-called ‘parallel societies’ within Switzerland.”
  • The Federal Act on Foreign Nationals and Integration 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 2019).
  • 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 (State Secretariat for Migration 2015).
  • At an institutional level, the Federal Committee on Foreigners and the Federal Committee on Refugees were replaced by the Federal Commission for Migration Affairs (since re-named the Federal Commission for Migration) in 2008. The Commission has 30 elected members, many of whom have a migration background. The Commission is “mandated by law to address social, economic, cultural, political, demographic and legal issues that arise from the residence of foreign nationals in Switzerland. The subject areas covered range from refugee protection and economic migration to social cohesion and transnational issues” (Federal Commission for Migration 2020). 

 

2. THE ADOPTION OF MULTICULTURALISM IN SCHOOL CURRICULUM

    No.

   
School Curriculum Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Switzerland participates in a number of international exchange programs designed to foster intercultural contact, but does not appear to do much else insofar as multicultural education is concerned (Weckerle 2013).
  • Educational offerings vary widely in Switzerland, as curriculum is the responsibility of the 26 cantons (Swiss Conferences of Cantonal Ministers of Education 2010a); this has a large effect on the extent to which certain schools may prioritize integration or intercultural education while others may not (Huddleston et al. 2015). 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.
  • MIPEX data on intercultural education in Switzerland also find that there are no requirements for teacher training in multicultural or intercultural education (Huddleston et al. 2015).

 

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.

   
Media Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 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 theparticularities 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. Immigrant programs are afforded little airtime in public service broadcasting (Ratajczak 2014; Signer et al. 2011). As Ratajczak (2014, 15) aptly sums up: “the public broadcast authority does not take into account the needs of the immigrants, unless they become identified with one of the language groups. The new ethnic groups remain unrecognized by the SRG, although we are speaking of a large proportion of Swiss society. Immigrants often raise the question of exclusion and marginalization in the public sphere. They remain a group which 
  • In their analysis of minority representation in public service broadcasting, Signer et al. (2011, 430) find that immigrants are given few opportunities to speak in newscasts about issues affecting migrant communities and are frequently conveyed as a “cultural threat, rivals, a financial burden or troublemakers.” 
  • At the local level, there are some non-profit radio stations that are diversifying their content and audience. Radio LoRa, for example, is a non-commercial local radio station in Zurich that identifies as an intercultural outlet, offering programming in up to 20 different languages, including Turkish, Serbian, Croatian, and more (Radio LoRa 2020). The station posits that it is a platform for migrant communities and plays an active role in local events.  

 

4. EXEMPTIONS FROM DRESS CODES (EITHER BY STATUTE OR COURT CASES)

    No evidence found.

   
Exemption Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 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 (BBC 2010b).
  • 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 (Abdeleli 2019). 
  • In 2017, a proposal to ban religious face coverings was brought forward by a grassroots activist group to the Swiss government with the requisite 100,000 signatures (The Local 2019b). The proposal was rejected in 2019 as “too extreme” and the federal government suggested that decisions pertaining to religious wear should be determined by the cantons (Reuters Staff 2018). However, a majority of Senators offered a legal amendment to require all persons to show their faces in specific contexts (such as transportation checks) as a counter-proposal (The Local 2019b). The Swiss public will vote on the matter in the coming years (Keystone-SDA 2019). 
  • Two of the country’s cantons – Ticino and St. Gallen – have implemented local bans on face coverings (SDA 2018; Keystone-SDA 2019). Similar proposals have been rejected in Glarus, Zurich, and Solothurn (SWI 2017; The Local 2019b). Reports on proceedings from the ban in Ticino, however, show that the majority of cases involving the ban have affected sports fans wearing masks amidst issues of “sports hooliganism” (Taylor 2018). 

 

5. ALLOWS DUAL CITIZENSHIP

    Yes.

   
Dual Citizenship Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 1 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.

   
Funding Ethnic Groups Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 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. 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. Funding that does exist tends to focus on integration as opposed to multiculturalism (Confederation Suisse 2013; Confederation Suisse 2010; Federal Council 2019). Furthermore, the Forum for the Integration of Migrants, which provided some funding for integration, is no longer active; web activity for the Forum ceased in 2015 and all contact information is no longer available. 

 

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.

   
Bilingual Education Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Language policy education emphasizes the acquisition of an official language by immigrants as quickly as possible (Kaya 2005, 10). 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 2018).
  • 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 2010). This commitment was reaffirmed in a 2004 national strategy on language education (Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education 2010). 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 some cantons (Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education 2010; Huddleston et al. 2015).
  • 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; see also State Secretariat for Migration 2015).
  • The “Intercantonal Agreement on the Harmonization of Compulsory Schooling,” signed in 2007, suggests that there should be more focus within Swiss education on first-language instruction (HarmoS 2007). Article 4 of the agreement stipulates that the cantons should teach foreign languages and specifically notes that students from migrant backgrounds should have access to such courses. This, however, has not been taken up in many cantons, and foreign-language classes in some cantons are offered outside schools in community programming (Abdeleli 2013). 

 

8. AFFIRMATIVE ACTION FOR DISADVANTAGED IMMIGRANT GROUPS

   No.

   
Affirmative Action Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 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 otherminorities.