Switzerland Joins the UN and Moves to the Right Politically
On Sept 10, 2002, the Swiss abandoned their long-held neutrality to
become the 190th member of the UN.
In Oct. 2003, Switzerland took a turn to the right when the far-right
Swiss People's Party (SVP) had the strongest showing in parliamentary
elections, garnering 28% of the vote. Its virulently anti-immigration,
anti-EU leader, Christopher Blocher, was given a cabinet position. The SVP
fared well again in October 2007 elections, winning 29% of the vote and
gaining seven seats in Parliament. The party took the most votes in
general election history. Immigration dominated the election, and the SVP
was accused of running a racist campaign. In December, the coalition that
has run Switzerland since 1959 fell apart when the SVP withdrew from the
government to protest Parliament's ouster of Blocher as justice minister.
The move shifted the government to the center-left.
On June 1, 2008, 64% of voters opposed a law initiated by the SVP that
would allow secret votes by the public to grant citizenship to foreigners
in their towns. However, 57.5% of voters passed a referendum in Nov. 2009 banning the construction of new minarets on mosques. The SVP sponsored the referendum, saying minarets are a symbol of Islamization. Several Western countries and Muslims around the world criticized the vote as discriminatory and intolerant.