Switzerland. According to
countryaah, two thirds of Swiss people said in a
referendum in March, no to extended holidays. According to
the proposal, the holiday would be extended from four to six
weeks. In another referendum, voters said no to an extended
ban on smoking in public places.
Official figures in September showed that the country's
growth fell below zero and was now negative. The reason was
falling exports due to the continued very strong Swiss
franc. The central bank had also warned that the large
inflow of capital would cause instability in the country.
The Bank's decision the year before to set a ceiling for the
franc in relation to the euro had not been enough to dampen
the negative impact of the euro crisis on Switzerland.
However, the same month, the World Economic Forum (WEF)
named Switzerland the world's most competitive economy, for
the fourth year in a row. Unemployment was still below 3%.
In November, an environmental group collected enough
signatures to create a referendum on immigration. The Ecopop
group stated that the aim was to keep the population down to
reduce the impact on the environment. Ecopop also advocated
that aid money be used for family planning abroad.
A protracted dispute with Germany about the taxation of
hidden assets in Switzerland seemed to loosen when the
countries signed an agreement on the taxation of German
assets in Swiss banks. The agreement would allow Germans
with undeclared assets to make a one-time payment of between
21 and 41% of the value. But in November, the German Federal
Council voted down the agreement.
Bank giant UBS was sentenced in December by the British
Financial Supervisory Authority to pay the equivalent of SEK
10 billion in fines for having manipulated the policy rate
Libor in London for several years.
In September 1997, 50.8% voted in a referendum, thus
excluding the unemployment insurance cut proposed by the
government. According to observers, this result could
complicate the planned economic savings policy.
As a result of a scandal involving comprised of
multi-million-dollar scams, carried out by a former
intelligence service aimed at setting up a secret army, the
government suspended the head of the military intelligence,
accused of ordering the operation. Minister of Defense Adolf
Ogi was made responsible for the investigation and thus
advanced first and foremost on the political scene. Under
his leadership, the Center's Democratic Union won the
election in October 1999, and Ogi took over the presidential
post in January 2000.
In 1998, the state conducted a study that revealed
anti-Semitism was increasing in the country as a result of
the country's historical relationship with Nazi Germany and
as a result of the policy its banks had towards accounts of
Holocaust victims. A January 2000 study by the United States
revealed that 16% of Swiss had anti-Semitic attitudes. There
was an increase in the situation 10 years earlier.
In his takeover of the presidential post in January 2001,
Social Democrat Moritz Leuenberger was harshly criticized by
the press and political sectors for the government's
stubborn policy towards the thousands of anti-globalization
protesters who had tried to travel to the winter sports
resort of Davos, where the world's economic and political
elite since 1971 have been competing at the World Economic
Summit. The government had ordered most protesters stopped
even before they reached Davos and had set them to cool off
in the snow.
In March 2001, a 77% referendum rejected Switzerland's
approach to the EU. The proposal had been tabled by the
Socialist Party and youth groups, but was opposed by the
Government Coalition, which argued that negotiations could
not be opened for accession to the EU before the 2003-07
Another referendum in June narrowly agreed that Swiss
soldiers could carry weapons during peace missions abroad.
The vote also approved that Swiss soldiers can participate
in NATO- led training exercises. At this time, Swiss forces
participated in Kosova, where they were, however, protected
by Austrian forces because the Swiss did not have to carry
weapons themselves. The government wanted the military to
have the same working conditions as NATO forces.