Friday, April 06, 2012

Nice Things About Switzerland #2: Political Posters

I already blogged about the SVP and their mad racist posters. They're the ones with black sheep kicking white sheep out of the country and minarets that look like missiles.

But there's more to Swiss politics than xenophobia. There's also something approaching real democracy. This results in frequent referendums on issues ranging from 'Can Nestlé use the Alps as advertising hoardings?' and 'Should we dump 24 foreigners a year into a forest and make them kill each other?' to 'Should Swiss children be taught to stand in front of escalators and train doors so you have to shove them out of the way if you want to get anywhere?' (Results: no, yes, and yes, respectively.)

I know it's referendum time when I walk through the local train station and see a new batch of posters with the word JA or NEIN on it. It's fun to try to guess what the referendum is about.

Which leads me to this:

Sexy hookers leaning into my car? Ja, baby! JA!

Almost as strange is the real meaning of the poster. They wanted people to vote for something called a 'sex box' where prostitutes would have a kind of shelter to ply their trade in by night. The shelter would retract into the ground by day. A complicated issue, but fun to talk about when you get to say 'sex box' five times a minute.

More Nice Things About Switzerland here


  1. Are there any other political parties/organisations other than SVP/AUNS that produce such amazing posters? All the FDP and SP ones I've seen look muted in comparison to the powerful nature of the ones produced by the SVP. They're very effective.

    Foreign hands grabbing Swiss passports, minarets like missiles, black ravens pecking into Switzerland, screaming, wild-eyed women, red rats crawling over blue purses, foreign-looking bearded, muscular men made to look like rapists, white sheep kicking out black sheep, mad-eyed criminal with sunglasses and fag in mouth laughing evilly with gun aimed at viewer, immigrant thieves removing TVs from Switzerland, gold toilets, sinister black boots running and stomping all over the Swiss flag...

    I can't think of any movement in Europe with anywhere near an effective poster campaign as the SVP.

    I don't think such campaigns would travel well though - I think it's something very much in the Swiss psyche that makes it work perhaps?

  2. Also, I don't know if the SVP had a campaign for the Strichplatz, but the Zürich section of the SVP chose the NEIN option, although the FDP, SP, Green Liberals and the CVP supported it.

  3. Paul, I don't know a lot about what goes on elsewhere in Europe, but in the UK they'd never get away with that kind of imagery.

    They are great, though, in their way. The other parties can't or won't compete.

    I'd say the Swiss are more open about their xenophobia whereas in the UK no-one is allowed to talk about it. Your average Brit in the pub would say the same thing about ethnic group A as a Swiss guy would, but it's not reflected in politics.

  4. Andrew: I'm in the UK (and vote UKIP, which is the nearest thing to the SVP). I'd love to see a more open debate about immigration and things like it, but it's all suppressed - in actual fact, I'm very jealous of Switzerland, the SVP and their more well-known politicians (like Oskar Freysinger). There is a sense of "we know what we like, and it's not that - deshalb sagen wir NEIN".

  5. The SVP almost always go too far but by the nature of Swiss politics they force the centrist and left parties a bit towards the right. In my inexpert opinion it works well.

    Switzerland certainly has an amazing democratic process. I should actually make that one of the 'nice things about Switzerland'. Individuals can make a difference, people get involved in their local communities, and lawmakers listen to the people. It's slow, but it's great. In Britain, what's even the point of voting? Really?

  6. Indeed. I actually find it very difficult to vote, even when there's a UKIP candidate. I vote for the UKIP candidate, even though I'm not keen on him. If it weren't for UKIP, I just wouldn't vote. As you say, the political process here is basically moribund - all the real power isn't in the hands of politicians, it's in the hands of bureaucrats.


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