chapter  5
Convinced direct democrats under strain
Talking about politics in Switzerland
WithSwen Hutter, Manès Weisskircher
Pages 19

This chapter provides a brief overview of research on Swiss politics and direct-democratic participation. It introduces issues most prominently discussed by Swiss participants: immigration, welfare, and terrorism. On the micro-level, availability of more direct-democratic instruments in Swiss cantons reduces individual propensity to participate in demonstrations. Protest in Switzerland often takes the form of collections of signatures or non-violent demonstrations, with issues and rhythm of protest often related to direct-democratic campaigns. The direct-democratic instruments in Switzerland allowed the party to fundamentally challenge the majority in government and parliament, while at the same time being part of national government. Prominence of immigration is unsurprising given its contested status in Switzerland and national and international developments. Implementation of the initiative was high on the political agenda around the time of our focus groups because of its potential consequences for the relations between Switzerland and the European Union.