Democracy and rights
In Switzerland, power is close to the people.
Human rights are generally respected, but human rights
organizations fear that some initiatives taken in recent
years may worsen the situation of immigrants and
Switzerland is a strongly decentralized democracy
where the central power is unusually weak. This applies
partly in relation to the 26 cantons (states) and partly
in relation to citizens who can tear up government
decisions by referendums (see Political system).
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The country is regarded as free and has ratified the
key conventions on human rights. Freedom of association
and assembly is enshrined in the Constitution, as is
freedom of religion and the possibility of forming
parties and acting politically.
In recent years, a number of controversial proposals
have been put forward at federal level or through
referendums. The background is a domestic debate about
national self-determination in relation to international
law, combined with what appears to be an increased
concern about immigration (See Calendar). Criticism has
been voiced by human rights organizations that have
feared the erosion of international law and human
In its report on Switzerland for 2018, the UN
Committee on Human Rights writes that the central
government has successfully succeeded in parrying local
initiatives in accordance with international law and
that the lively debate that followed in the wake of the
controversial initiatives can be seen as signs of a
Switzerland is distinguished by first introducing
female suffrage at national level in 1971 (see Political
system). Women are still under-represented in the
business world, but in recent years a relatively rapid
development has taken place in the political sphere.
About 35 percent of the Members of Parliament are
Corruption is low. Switzerland ranks third in the
2018 Transparency International index with 180 countries
Freedom of expression and media
Freedom of opinion and press has been guaranteed in
the constitution since 1874. Censorship is expressly
prohibited even if freedom of expression is limited in
view of legislation on incitement against ethnic groups.
The media climate is good, but above all the
newspaper industry has been hit hard financially by the
competition from the Internet. There are also problems
with a small number of owners controlling a large
proportion of the media.
The Internet is open and accessible.
The country lacks an equivalent to the principle of
publicity, although there are certain requirements for
transparency at the federal level. The lack of
legislation is criticized by Reporters Without Borders,
who see difficulties in conducting investigative
journalism in the country.
Switzerland placed sixth on Reporters Without Borders
Press Freedom Index for 2019, which is a relegation with
a place from 2018 (see here).
Society is opening up more and more
The country's schools and libraries are allowed to reopen, as are the
museums. Restaurants and cafes are also allowed to serve guests again, if the
tables are kept separate. People are still advised to wear face protection when
traveling with public transportation. Already from the end of April,
restrictions gradually began to be lifted in the country when hairdressers and
several shops could again receive customers. From the beginning of June, sports
facilities and swimming pools, cinemas and more are expected to be open when
collections with more than five people are also allowed.
Significant increase in covid-19 cases
The government announces an emergency permit to fight the corona virus. It
closes schools and prohibits gatherings with more than a hundred people and
border controls have been introduced to prevent the corona virus from spreading
further in the country. In some cantons, restaurants, bars and shops are also
not open. In addition, the national parliament has suspended operations in the
spring. To help companies and employers cope with the difficult situation, the
government will provide a total of just over EUR 10 billion. In recent days, the
number of cases of covid-19 has doubled and just over two thousand people have
fallen ill while 14 people have died.