Top news from our partner swissinfo

  • By the numbers: Switzerland scores high on prices, lower on happiness

    Sat, 17 Mar 2018 16:00:00 GMT

    Almost every article published by contains a percentage, an age, an amount of money or some other figure. Here’s a round-up of the most interesting statistics to appear in the past week’s stories. Sunday 865,000 The number of guns currently registered in Switzerland’s intercantonal platform. As newspaper SonntagsBlick reported on Sunday, this represents a 9% increase over last year.  Monday 100,000 The estimated cost in Swiss francs of damages caused by vandals at an unauthorised march in Zurich on International Women’s Day. Zurich police said in a statement on Monday that they did not intervene during the “massive damage to property” because of the large number of women and children in attendance.  Tuesday 230 The number of people who lost their lives in Swiss road accidents in 2017, according to the Federal Office of Transport. Although that’s 14 more deaths than in 2016, the overall trend has been downward since 2013. Wednesday 5 Switzerland’s ranking ...

  • Geneva puts spotlight on Myanmar’s Rohingya minority

    Sat, 17 Mar 2018 16:00:00 GMT

    The plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya community was the centre of attention in Geneva last week with allegations of “acts of genocide” against the Muslim minority, counterclaims by Myanmar officials, a donor appeal for almost $1 billion (CHF954 million) and a bleak documentary film about a Buddhist monk stirring up ethnic hate. Since August 25, 2017, over 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled the western state of Rakhine in Myanmar to Bangladesh as security forces carried out brutal crackdowns, following attacks by Rohingya insurgents.  “This is on top of 200,000 Rohingya already living in Bangladesh, so we are getting close to the one-million mark,” Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters in Geneva on Friday. Although movements into Bangladesh have slowed since last year, smaller groups of people continue to arrive, suggesting the situation has still not stabilised, he added. The UN describes the exodus as “one of the fastest growing refugee crises in ...

  • Geneva motor show: Mechanics gear up for revolution

    Sat, 17 Mar 2018 10:00:00 GMT

    Not all of 700,000 visitors to Geneva's International Motor Show are there for the fancy cars. The Swiss automotive industry includes some 20,000 companies employing ten times as many people, among them many mechanics, and they’re at the show to find out how best to serve their clients. Visitors will struggle to find Swiss-manufactured cars among the glittering premiers on show. But found two Swiss productions, both from canton Zurich: the ‘Microlino’, a small, front-opening electric car that can plug into normal domestic sockets. It’s a Swiss idea but the cars are produced in Italy. Then there’s the latest concept vehicle developed by Rinspeed. The autonomous ‘Snap’ vehicle has a chassis called a skateboard, on top of which sits a ‘pod’ that can be used as a stationary or mobile unit for camping, conferences or normal travel. Shopping for ‘accessories’ Not far away in a different hall at the show, Swiss people who work in the auto industry will find everything ...

  • A life in limbo for Switzerland's F permit holders

    Fri, 16 Mar 2018 14:00:00 GMT

    “Living in Switzerland with an F permit is like living in limbo.” That’s the verdict of four asylum seekers who have been 'provisionally admitted' to the country. Their asylum requests have been turned down, but it is unsafe for them to return home.  There are 41,000 F permit holders in Switzerland but only one in three has a job. Eight out of ten are dependent on social assistance. Their ability to find work, though guaranteed by law, is often limited because their qualifications are not recognised, they have to live in a particular canton and prospective employers are wary of their provisional status. They could be asked to leave the country at any time.  Restrictions People with this temporary status do not have the same rights as refugees. People we spoke to said they had apartments assigned to them by their cantons of residence, and that they felt safe, but they cannot independently sign a lease or a mobile phone contract. They cannot open a bank account if they have no ...

  • Switzerland promotes democracy where it hurts

    Fri, 16 Mar 2018 10:00:00 GMT

    Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Taiwan: all countries in which Switzerland is actively engaged for more democracy. But what on paper sounds easy and almost self-evident is, on the ground, seriously hard work.  “We’re not so easy to find,” admits the porter at the Swiss embassy in Myanmar, which since opening six years ago has been the first port of call for every visitor. It had taken my driver three attempts to locate the old villa with a lush garden in Yangon, until 2006 the national capital and still the country’s largest city.  #Dear Democracy This text is part of #DearDemocracy, a platform on direct democracy issues, by Switzerland is one of the most engaged supporters of the still highly fragile democracy in the former Burma.  “Over the past five years we’ve invested a good CHF122 million ($129 million) here in Myanmar,” says Agnès Christeler, head of political and economic affairs at the embassy, which employs several dozen staff. Of this money, she says around ...

  • What does ‘life sentence’ mean in Switzerland?

    Fri, 16 Mar 2018 09:30:00 GMT

    The trial of a quadruple murderer has reignited the debate on lifelong imprisonment in Switzerland, where 'life' doesn't necessarily mean 'until death', and dangerous repeat offenders sometimes walk free. In the United States, courts can pass prison sentences of more than 100 years. Regardless of the age of the defendant at the time of the crime, he or she may be placed behind bars and prevented from harming anyone outside of the prison. It's different in Switzerland. Yes, the criminal code provides for a "punishment of lifelong deprivation of liberty" for especially serious crimes such as murder, rape, hostage-taking or genocide. But that doesn't mean the defendant will remain in prison until the end of his or her days. Conditional release can occur after 15 years, and in certain cases, even after ten years. The problem is that even if the defendant carries out the sentence for the crime, paid his or her debt to society and regained the right to live freely, he or she can ...

  • People in wheelchairs can drink and drive!

    Thu, 15 Mar 2018 16:00:00 GMT

    "True Talk" puts people in front of the camera who are fighting prejudice or discrimination. They answer questions that nobody would normally dare to ask directly.  This week, we speak to Hitzi, who is physically handicapped and confined to a wheelchair. He says Switzerland is not at all wheelchair friendly, which can make life quite difficult. (SRF/

  • Drones invade arts, performance, and hearts

    Thu, 15 Mar 2018 14:00:00 GMT

    In this instalment of our opinion series, swissnex Boston Communications Manager Jake Link describes how a swarm of synchronised drones captured his imagination – and his heart – and raised his hopes for a technology that often inspires public uneasiness. The idea of a drone future, filled with omnipresent robots and buzzing skies, often feels heavy and foreboding. Much of the discussion around the drone-ification of our major industries focuses on issues like privacy, security, trust, and safety. While this new drone era is bringing rapid innovation to nearly every sector, it also brings a general sense of skepticism and concern. This apprehension is certainly something I’ve thought a lot about and discussed heavily with friends and colleagues over the past couple of years, and we all seem to share an optimistic, but slightly nervous sentiment. The explosion in drone technology prompted a new yearlong event series from swissnex Boston called “Aerial Futures: The Drone ...

  • Brexit - the view from Switzerland

    Thu, 15 Mar 2018 10:00:00 GMT

    The knock-on effects of the 2016 Brexit vote are still reverberating across Europe. In Switzerland, especially, where the government is also trying to pin down its ties with Brussels, the future shape of EU-UK relations are being keenly observed. Former British Ambassador to Bern David Moran and Cenni Najy of foraus discuss the current political situation. Subscribe to our podcast on iTunes to ensure that you don’t miss the next one.

  • How a new kind of Swiss store changed the way we shop

    Thu, 15 Mar 2018 10:28:00 GMT

    Seventy years ago, buying groceries in Switzerland and the rest of Europe changed forever when the Swiss retailer Migros opened a new kind of store in Zurich. In March 1948, Migros founder Gottlieb Duttweiler introduced the first self-service store on Seidengasse in Zurich, a controversial move at the time. It meant that customers could, for the first time, choose their own products on shelves instead of getting them from a person behind a counter. The concept was met with hostility by long-established village and neighbourhood shops, while newspaper reports deemed that picking out one’s own products was something extremely "un-Swiss". Prior to the innovation, Swiss grocery stores always had a shopkeeper behind a counter who would pick out what the customer required. In turn, the customer had to pay before even touching what they had just bought. However, customers quickly began to appreciate being able to fill a shopping basket with goods hand-picked from the shelves quickly.

  • ‘We must not impose politics on the artists’ work’

    Wed, 14 Mar 2018 10:00:00 GMT

    Philippe Bischof, the new director of the Swiss arts council Pro Helvetia, talks to about the significance of cultural exchanges abroad. He says art offers a chance for dialogue, and explains how Pro Helvetia helps support cultural projects in countries where art is under political pressure. If you had to describe the state of Swiss art to “sell” it abroad, how would you do it? Philippe Bischof: With diversity, because this is quite specific for Switzerland. It’s a country of four official languages. There’s not just one Swiss culture but many Swiss cultures and this is appreciated in other countries, I hear that often.  Then there is the matter of quality. Switzerland is a rich country – there’s a high quality in the making [of art] and there are very good art academies. It’s an art made in excellent circumstances with good funds and infrastructure – that’s something you recognize easily. There’s as well a kind of specific innovation, with a lot of ...

  • Watch Stephen Hawking's Swiss visit in 1987

    Wed, 14 Mar 2018 10:27:00 GMT

    Physicist Stephen Hawking, who died on Wednesday, gave a speech at the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich in 1987. Here is an excerpt.   On September 4, 1987, Hawking presented his views on the "Origins of the Universe" at the institute. He was honoured at the event as patron of a foundation doing research into the physicist's motor neuron disease.  The German-language Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper wrote this about his visit: "Hawking came at the invitation of the ALS/MND research institute, and gave two presentations which were played from a disc. It was a bit like science fiction. While many sentences were pre-programmed, it took him some time to answer unexpected questions. When a member of the audience tried excusing themselve for their poor lack of knowledge of the research field, he answered laconically, 'That goes for most people'." (SRF,

  • The making of a well-behaved sheepdog

    Wed, 14 Mar 2018 09:35:00 GMT

    When hikers come across herding dogs in the Swiss countryside, the animals can appear aggressive and  threateneding The Swiss authorities have decided new measures are needed to make these dogs more human-friendly. (SRF, Christian Mühlethaler from Meinisberg, canton Bern is one of 20 breeders in Switzerland working with livestock guarding dogs. At the end of December 2017, one of his dogs had a litter of 12 puppies. As part of new measures introduced by the authorities, Mühlethaler’s dogs will have to undergo training before they are one year old, after which they will be tested on how well they interact with humans. As recently as five years ago, it was common practice for herd protection dogs to be separated from their mothers when still puppies. They were growing up exclusively among sheep, and only rarely coming into contact with people. As a result, such dogs were unaccustomed to human contact and in certain situations could react aggressively to people such ...

  • Is Switzerland about to follow Russia's legal lead?

    Tue, 13 Mar 2018 16:00:00 GMT

    International treaties or national law – what takes precedence? In Switzerland, a people’s initiative wants to decide this once and for all, but is coming up against strong resistance in parliament and civil society. Switzerland has signed over 5,000 international treaties with other states. But those behind the people’s initiative “Swiss law instead of foreign judges” want to ensure that in the future Swiss law takes precedence over the international. Launched by the conservative-right Swiss People’s Party, the initiative proposes that the federal constitution should take precedence over international law, and that the country cannot take on international obligations that run against it. If this was to be the case, it says, Switzerland would have to either modify or leave the international treaty in question. “Here, it’s us that decide”, the initiators say. Whatever the Swiss electorate chooses should be applied – regardless of what has been agreed with other countries or ...

  • Swiss NGOs on frontline of South Sudan’s forgotten war

    Tue, 13 Mar 2018 10:00:00 GMT

    As the United Nations Human Rights Council hears a new report on abuses in South Sudan, we look at how two Swiss non-governmental groups are working against the odds to help alleviate the suffering of the population. On Tuesday, the Human Rights Council is discussing a UN commission report documenting new abuses against civilians in South Sudan, including gang rapes, beheadings and blindings. “We talk of a crime against humanity of persecution with an ethnic dimension,” says commission member Andrew Clapham, professor of international law at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, “and in those instances we felt there was a deliberate attempt to humiliate people because of their ethnicity and to get them to move on or move out.” The commission says there is enough evidence to launch judicial investigations against more than 40 senior South Sudanese officers and officials for war crimes and crimes against humanity (see box for more on our interview with Andrew Clapham). Speaking at ...

  • Weeding out smokers of illegal cannabis

    Tue, 13 Mar 2018 09:35:00 GMT

    A new test makes it possible for Swiss police officers to find out whether someone is smoking an illegal substance. The test is reliable and cheap to carry out, and quickly allows the police to see if someone is in possession of legal, industrial hemp or a banned type of cannabis. (RTS/  Legal cannabis has become a flourishing business in Switzerland, which changed its laws in 2011 to let adults buy and use cannabis with up to 1% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the active ingredient that gets smokers high. It is used alongside another active ingredient, cannabidiol (CBD), in a growing range of cannabis-related products, from cosmetics to drinks.  Under a 2013 law, like a simple traffic offence, anyone over 18 caught in possession of up to ten grams of illegal cannabis will receive a CHF100 ($105) fine and the offence will not show up on their criminal record.  In 2008, Swiss voters rejected an initiative to decriminalise cannabis. At the same time they approved a new ...

  • Swiss multinationals step up US lobbying

    Mon, 12 Mar 2018 10:00:00 GMT

    Swiss multinational corporations in the United States have ramped up efforts to influence American policy making, spending nearly CHF22 million ($23.3 million) on lobbying last year.  From tax reform to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), Swiss multinationals – especially those in the pharmaceutical and financial sectors – have left nothing to chance.  While it is not unusual for multinationals, via their US-based subsidiaries, to engage in lobbying, the amounts of money spent by Swiss firms on lobbying in 2017 rose markedly compared with previous years, according to data from US transparency organisation Center for Responsive Politics (CRP).  Spending by pharmaceutical manufacturer Novartis on lobbying rose from CHF6.4 million in 2016 to CHF8.11 million in 2017. On a smaller but equally ambitious scale, industrial digital technology company ABB Group doubled its spending on lobbying to CHF500,000.  According to the CRP, the lobbying spend of these ...

  • Swiss drive demand for big and powerful cars

    Mon, 12 Mar 2018 10:37:00 GMT

    In Switzerland large, powerful vehicles make up almost half the fleet. But thanks to technological progress, the environmental impact of this trend is lighter than expected.  The trend for big cars continues this year at the Geneva Motor Show, as well as on Swiss roads. American-style pick-up trucks are no longer as rare a sight as before. However, it is the Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) that has found fertile ground in the Alpine nation. According to the Federal Roads Office, SUVs now account for almost half of all private vehicles, compared with the average European share of around one third.   In terms of engines, “with a car fleet 25% more powerful than the European average, Switzerland is fond of horsepower”, François Launaz, president of auto-suisse, the umbrella organisation for car importers, told Swiss public television, RTS.  But this trend towards larger and more powerful vehicles has not necessarily had catastrophic effects in terms of the environment, because under ...

  • Centre-left parties dominate Switzerland’s biggest cities

    Sun, 11 Mar 2018 16:00:00 GMT

    Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Bern, Lausanne, St Gallen: Switzerland’s largest cities are dominated by parties on the political left. Meanwhile, most small towns in peripheral regions are governed by parties on the right, with the left slowly gaining ground in some locations. Why is that?  Elections to the Zurich city council and the local parliament at the beginning of March saw the political left boosting its power at the expense of centrist and rightwing parties. In Switzerland’s biggest city, the leftwing Green Party secured a clear majority (six seats) in the nine-member executive and won a majority in the parliament.  An electoral alliance of centre-right parties clearly failed to break the centre-left’s 28-year grip on the city government.  Since the 1990s, the leftwing Social Democratic Party has grown into the strongest political force in Switzerland’s big towns and cities. In recent years, this shift to the left has been witnessed in smaller towns, such as Aarau, Olten, Baden ...

  • Robert Woodrich: ‘Switzerland still appears a political oasis of sorts’

    Sun, 11 Mar 2018 10:00:00 GMT

    Born and raised in Canada, 32-year-old Robert Woodrich now lives in Thailand, where he runs a business. But because of his Swiss ancestry, he sees Switzerland as a third “home away from home”. Your name doesn’t sound Swiss. What’s your connection to Switzerland, and when did you start to identify with your Swissness?  Robert Woodrich: I was born abroad, in Windsor, Canada – due south of the US city of Detroit. My Swiss citizenship passed to me from my ‘Oma’ [grandmother] on my mother’s side, who hailed from Zurich and Schwyz during a time when women could not yet vote. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of I learned about my nationality at a young age; my parents used to joke about being able to send me to Switzerland should conflict erupt during the Cold War. I really began to feel a strong connection to the country during my youth, when I visited sites such as the original ...

  • Expats between bank accounts and welfare benefits

    Sat, 10 Mar 2018 20:04:00 GMT

    The Council of the Swiss Abroad has called on parliament to reject a proposal linking welfare benefits to residence status in Switzerland or contributions to the country’s social security system. In a resolution, adopted unanimously on Saturday, the assembly criticised the proposals of a committee of the House of Representatives as a breach of legal equality set down in the constitution. “The proposals are tantamount to a blatant discrimination of all those Swiss citizens who live abroad [notably in countries outside the European Union and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA)] for whatever reason,” the resolution says. It also contradicts the international mobility of citizens, according to the resolution. In the same vein, council member François Baur, a representative of the Swiss Business Federation, said the proposals of the parliamentary committee were not at all in the interest of the Swiss economy, notably the export-oriented sector and companies with subsidiaries ...

  • Fifty years of going flat out on frozen Swiss lakes

    Sat, 10 Mar 2018 10:00:00 GMT

    Switzerland’s largest cross-country ski race is turning 50. On Sunday 14,200 athletes will take part in the Engadine Ski Marathon.  Images of endless lines of skiers snaking across frozen lakes have become a trademark of Switzerland as a winter sport location. The 42-kilometre (26-mile) race is the most popular in the country – to the extent that organisers have been forced to limit the number of places in order to guarantee the event’s quality.  When a group of stalwarts got together in 1969 for the first Engadine Ski Marathon, they were probably unaware that they were real pioneers. Today, similar events pop up everywhere in all endurance sports. The aim is always to attract thousands of hobby athletes to the region where the event is being held.  The images document the development of the marathon from a local cross-country run for a few people bitten by the cross-country skiing bug to a massive sporting and logistical event, which attracts not only hobby skiers but also the ...

  • When the Alps become your place of work

    Sat, 10 Mar 2018 08:00:00 GMT

    Swiss photographer Dan Patitucci spends months each year in the Alps and other mountain ranges of the world, on assignment. In this last image in his series, we see him checking his gear. For long periods each year, I literally live in the mountains.  Sometimes it's in huts throughout the Alps, other times it's tents in the Himalaya.  The gear I use is critical for my work, communication, comfort and safety.  Here, I've set up office in the Finsteraarhorn Hut during a ski tour magazine assignment. At work and play We are fortunate to call the mountains our workplace and still marvel at what we get to do on any given work day, be it in the Alps or Himalaya.  After all these years, the passion we have for life as mountain sport athletes and photographers hasn't faded. Experiencing the Alps on so many levels keeps us motivated for what comes next. Grandiose landscapes Since December, has been publishing a series of Dan and Janine Patitucci’s pictures: images ...

  • By the numbers: the Geneva passport boom

    Fri, 9 Mar 2018 16:00:00 GMT

    Almost every article published by contains a percentage, an age, an amount of money or some other figure. Here’s a round-up of the most interesting statistics to appear in the past week’s stories. Sunday 71.6 The percentage of voters who rejected a proposal to scrap the mandatory licence fee for Switzerland’s public broadcasters.  Tuesday 5,789 Almost 5,800 foreigners living in Geneva were granted Swiss citizenship in 2017 – a big jump from 2016 as applicants raced to meet the end-of-year deadline, when stricter rules came into force.  Wednesday 57,000,000 Switzerland exported steel products worth CHF57 million to the US last year. The Swiss and 17 other members of the World Trade Organization have expressed concerns over Donald Trump’s decision to slap tariffs of 25% on steel imports. Swiss aluminium exports, worth CHF30 million, could also be affected.  Thursday 60 Authorities in Geneva have ruled that private apartments or houses can be rented on ...

  • Is there such a thing as ‘Latin Switzerland’?

    Fri, 9 Mar 2018 07:00:00 GMT

    Switzerland’s French and Italian speakers - the ‘Latins’ - are sometimes painted as a single political bloc forming a natural ally against the German-speakers. But this is far from the truth. There is a moment, during the train journey from Bern to Geneva, after rolling through the farmlands of Fribourg, when you enter a long tunnel. All normal, you think. But then you suddenly emerge high above the turquoise crescent of Lac Léman, fringed on one side by sheer mountains that seem to spring straight from the water and on the other by warrens of stacked twisting vineyards, and, especially if the sun is shining, it’s difficult not to think: the South. The same sensation is present when cresting (or burrowing through) the Gotthard, connecting German-speaking canton Uri with Italian-speaking Ticino, where you’re likely to be met with sunshine and palm trees. There is a reason Switzerland has names for the virtual dividing lines between its linguistic regions: the so-called ...

  • Ten arguments for and against e-voting

    Fri, 9 Mar 2018 13:25:00 GMT

    Is voting online a big step forwards or backwards? Opinion in Switzerland about the use of electronic voting is divided.  The Swiss have more chances to express their opinions at the ballot box than anyone else in the world thanks to their extensive system of direct democracy. Wouldn’t it be more practical if you could do so with the click of a mouse?  The Swiss government is convinced. From 2019, two out of three cantons (26 in total) could have e-voting in place. But data protection campaigners and IT experts warn of the dangers; opponents will probably launch a people’s initiative on the issue.  These are the ten most commonly heard arguments for and against e-voting: Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) The issue of e-voting has been on the agenda of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) for many years.  The OSA’s assembly, the Council of Swiss Abroad, is meeting on Saturday in the Swiss capital, Bern. A panel discussion is taking place, entitled "E-Voting:

  • How to make friends with a Swiss person

    Tue, 6 Mar 2018 16:00:00 GMT

    Misinformed stereotype or stark reality? Whichever way round it is, how to make friends with the Swiss is a topic for most expats at some point during their time here. This animated guide lays out some ground rules for forming friendships with the Swiss - all with a heavy dose of humour. (SRF, Whether you're in Switzerland for business or pleasure, the guide has a wide range of pointers that could come in handy. It explains the 'challenges' of getting close to a Swiss person, and offers some advice on getting over the most commonly-encountered hurdles.  But don't take this too seriously, this clip was part of the latest instalment of the comedy show 'Deville Late Night', part of the German-language programming on Swiss public television, SRF. 

  • Swiss women have come a long way, but still face discrimination

    Thu, 8 Mar 2018 06:57:00 GMT

    Switzerland has been swept up in the grassroots ‘#metoo’ movement and the growing dissatisfaction among women with the status quo. A lot has changed since 1971 when Swiss women won the right to vote. The social media campaign against sexual harassment and for gender equality, which started in the United States last year, has given fresh energy to today’s women’s movement in Switzerland, according to Silvia Binggeli, editor-in-chief of the Swiss women’s magazine, Annabelle, which was founded 80 years ago. She participated in the Women’s March in Zurich one year ago and was impressed by the number of women and men from multiple generations who turned out. She argues, “there is a women’s movement underway today. I see younger colleagues that are much more politically active than ten years ago.” However, gender equality remains elusive in both Switzerland and the US. In the US, the women’s movement is often described in three waves starting with the first women’s rights convention ...

  • Telling the untold stories of the Swiss women’s movement

    Thu, 8 Mar 2018 06:53:00 GMT

    In 1972, Margrit Zinggeler took her first trip to the US, accompanying her husband who was working as a computer programmer. The women’s liberation movement was in full swing and Margrit embraced it, enrolling in women’s studies classes at the University of Minnesota and burying her head in books like Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique.  A few months before arriving in Minnesota, Margrit had become part of the first generation of women to vote in a national election in Switzerland. She remembers the celebratory atmosphere and receiving flowers from the local community representative as she entered the voting booth in Zurich.  Only after arriving in the US did she realise how much more progressive it was than her home country. “There was much more solidarity among American women than I had seen in Switzerland. So many more women were attending university, and the sexual revolution was transforming women’s sense of identity like nothing I had seen in Switzerland.” The fight ...

  • How work has evolved for Switzerland’s women and men

    Wed, 7 Mar 2018 16:00:00 GMT

    We take a look in graphics at how gender patterns have evolved in Switzerland’s labour market.    The Swiss labour market is the most discriminatory in Europe in terms of gender equality, according to British magazine The Economist. It puts Switzerland 21st out of 21 European countries and 26th out of 29 OECD countries. The main reasons are traditional views of gender roles and women’s difficulties reconciling family and professional life.  Changes in gender proportions But the situation is far from static. We looked at the data for more than 500 professions over 50 years to see which ones saw the biggest changes in gender patterns.  Although many professions have become more diversified in less than 50 years, gender segregation nevertheless remains widespread. A 2013 international survey found that Switzerland was the country with the most professional gender segregation. The graphic below shows the professions most strongly dominated by one gender. This situation brings ...

  • Fynn: ‘I don't have to choose between being a man or a woman’

    Thu, 8 Mar 2018 16:00:00 GMT

    "True Talk" puts people in front of the camera who are fighting prejudice. They answer questions that nobody would normally dare to ask directly. This week, we speak to Fynn who defines himself as non-binary. He says the climate is much safer now for people to declare themselves as trans. (SRF/

  • Trump tariff plan may spark ‘undesirable chain reaction’

    Wed, 7 Mar 2018 16:22:00 GMT

    Switzerland and 17 other members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have expressed their fears over United States President Donald Trump’s decision to slap tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, with most urging the United States to reconsider.  In Geneva, leading trading partners of the US outlined their misgivings over Trump’s proposed tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium, and fears of tit-for-tat trade actions, a WTO spokesman said on Wednesday.  China raised the issues at a closed-door WTO general counsel meeting on Wednesday, and ambassadors and other officials from Australia, Brazil, the European Union, India, Japan, Norway and Russia warned US action would be unjustified and improper.  “Our concern is that this measure, which is widely contested by various countries, may cause other protectionist reactions. This could cause an undesirable chain reaction,” Swiss ambassador to the WTO Didier Chambovey told  “Certain Swiss interests are also ...

  • How do the Swiss deal with firearms? Your questions, answered

    Wed, 7 Mar 2018 10:00:00 GMT

    Following recent gun law debates in the United States, many readers wanted to know more about how gun issues are handled in Switzerland. Here are answers to some of the most frequently-asked questions, including why a country with so many guns in private hands has so few mass shootings.  What kind of guns are ordinary people allowed to own? Are there any conditions or requirements they have to meet? There’s a clear right in Swiss law for ordinary Swiss citizens to possess a gun. However, there are some requirements that need to be fulfilled first. Notification requirement Certain types of firearms only have a “notification” requirement. This means you’ll need a written contract that details the person selling or transferring the weapon and the person acquiring it. Specifics of the weapon need to be included. The person transferring the weapon has to send this contract to the new holder’s cantonal authorities within 30 days. The guns falling under this category include manual ...

  • As time takes its toll, the Zytglogge gets a facelift

    Wed, 7 Mar 2018 10:02:00 GMT

    The Zytglogge is one of Bern's most important sights: the ornate astronomical clock has served the city of Bern since 1530, but now the intricate moving parts have been taken away for repairs. A large crowd of tourists can normally be found watching the clock from the cobbled streets below as it strikes each hour, on the hour. It’s a highlight of the city’s old town – a UNESCO world heritage site. The clock itself is a fascinating piece of machinery: on the outside, it’s not only the numerous hands that move, but also characters such as a jester, a cockerel and of course, bears. On the inside of the clock tower a complex system of giant cogs, wheels, levers and knobs turn together to keep the clock on time. The rhythm is set by a giant pendulum. The many intricate parts need to be kept in excellent working order in order to function properly, and so the clock faces and various moving characters have been taken away to be cleaned and repaired. They’re due to return in June 2018. ...

  • Bannon brings his ‘populist revolt’ to Zurich

    Tue, 6 Mar 2018 21:27:00 GMT

    In front of a sold-out crowd of over 1,500 in the Swiss city, former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon spoke about the reasons for right-wing resurgence in Europe, and why the coming years will be far from stable. The list of items banned from the Zurich venue is long: guns, knives, axes, handsaws; fireworks, megaphones, hi-fi systems; photography equipment and laptops; umbrellas, selfie-sticks, pets; even, oddly enough, roller shoes. But neither the airtight security nor the dreary March evening has stopped a huge crowd turning out to see the European début of Steve Bannon – former chief strategist of Donald Trump and editor of alt-right Breitbart News – on Tuesday night, where he was invited to speak on the future of global populism by Swiss magazine Weltwoche. At 6:30 pm the queue to enter the Halle622 venue in the Oerlikon district stretches 20 metres down the street; by 7, half an hour before the event is due to start, it's ballooned almost as far as the local train ...

  • What happens when you flush the toilet at Europe’s highest railway station?

    Tue, 6 Mar 2018 07:00:00 GMT went behind the scenes at one of Switzerland’s highest tourist attractions, the Jungfraujoch, to find out what it takes to keep over a million visitors hydrated, fed and breathing.    It is a little after 7am on a dark January morning but the Grindelwald railway station is already packed with excited Korean tourists wanting to take the first train to Jungfraujoch. At 3,454 meters it is billed as the “Top of Europe” experience.  Visitors pay a small fortune (about $200) to ride the train the ten or so kilometres up the mountain from the village, and back down again. It’s the price they pay to take pictures of the unparalleled views, have a snowball fight or eat a curry lunch at Switzerland’s high-altitude Indian restaurant.  Technician Toni Eilert makes the journey almost every day, and for free. The 57-year-old takes the first train up from Grindelwald with the tourists. followed him around to see what his job entails.  With the bunch of keys he ...

  • Media sees a political tsunami in Italy

    Tue, 6 Mar 2018 13:20:00 GMT

    The Swiss press has pointed to the huge challenges facing its neighbour Italy, after two anti-establishment parties made huge gains in Sunday’s election. The Swiss media is sceptical as to whether these parties will deliver on their promises. “A political tsunami in Italy” is how the Aargauer Zeitung/MLZ titles its opinion piece on Tuesday. “Nothing will ever be the same again after this election,” writes Dominik Straub from Rome.  “It’s difficult not to see this as a populist tidal wave,” wrote the French-speaking Le Temps, continuing the water theme. “More than one in two Italian voters voted for an anti-establishment and anti-Europe party. The northern half for the xenophobic League (Lega) of Matteo Salvini. The southern half for the Five Star Movement of Luigi Di Maio.” Both papers said that the traditional parties had been swept away. The once strong Democratic Party has suffered its worst result in history, wrote Straub. And for ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, ...

  • Famous Chillon castle faces funding shortfall

    Mon, 5 Mar 2018 16:00:00 GMT

    Chillon Castle on Lake Geneva is one of the most impressive and most visited medieval castles in Europe, but its managers are now worried about its upkeep. (SRF/  Last year, it attracted over 400,000 tourists, a record number. Now the municipality of Veytaux has raised taxes on ticket sales by 40%, increasing the castle's tax burden by CHF100,000 ($107,000) per year. Veytaux says it is in dire financial straits and has no choice but to raise taxes.  The castle will now pay more than CHF250,000 in ticket taxes per year: more than they receive from the canton for the upkeep of the castle. Managers are wondering whether they will still be able to afford the constant renovations necessary to maintain such a large historic building.  The rock island on which the castle was built has been inhabited since prehistoric times. It was both a natural protection and a strategic location to control the passage between northern and southern Europe. It was a profitable toll ...

  • Press calls for reforms following licence fee vote

    Mon, 5 Mar 2018 09:11:00 GMT

    Commentators in the Swiss press have interpreted the overwhelming rejection (71.6%) of the ‘No Billag’ initiative on Sunday as a strong sign of support for a publicly funded Swiss TV and radio service. Nevertheless, they believe that the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) must downsize, and opinions vary widely as to how this could be achieved. Neue Zürcher Zeitung The Zurich-based newspaper argued that the “social foundation” for an annual licence fee for Swiss households – which currently sits at CHF451.10 ($482) – is “crumbling”, and that the corporation must therefore consider whether funds should come from the federal budget going forward. “The vote marks the end of an era for the [SBC]; they can no longer finance such a large variety of programs with publicly funded fees. The framework conditions for public broadcasting must be determined by politics,” the paper said. Tages-Anzeiger The Tages-Anzeiger, another Zurich-based German-language paper, noted that Sunday’s ...

  • Attack on public broadcasting licence fee clearly fails

    Sun, 4 Mar 2018 17:04:00 GMT

    Voters have rejected a proposal to do away with the mandatory licence fee for Switzerland’s public broadcasters. Final results show 71.6% of voters throwing out the initiative, which was launched by the youth chapters of two major political parties on the right. All regions and 26 cantons rejected the proposal. Urs Bieri, director of the leading GfS Bern research institute, said the "no" voters were even in the majority in rural, traditionally more conservative regions. Only six of the country's more than 2,250 municipalities came out in favour of the initiative. “The result shows that voters want to maintain a public service broadcaster and that they are prepared to pay a licence fee,” Communications Minister Doris Leuthard said at a news conference on Sunday. She said the result was a verdict against a system with exclusively commercial radio and television programmes in Switzerland. Leuthard described the result as a fiasco for critics of a public licence fee and called ...

  • Tax ‘total meltdown’ averted

    Sun, 4 Mar 2018 15:17:00 GMT

    More than 84% of voters have renewed the government’s right to tax its citizens and companies for another 15 years. This is a unique feature of Switzerland’s political system of direct democracy and federalism.   The issue was largely sidelined by the initiative on the public broadcasting licence fee. Yet a serious amount of money was at stake: two-thirds of the government’s tax revenue (including VAT), or CHF43.5 billion ($44.4 billion) in 2016.  Although highly unlikely, rejection would have been a nightmare for the government.  “This would be a total meltdown and I don’t even want to think about it,” said Finance Minister Ueli Maurer in January. “If voters were to say no, the Swiss government wouldn’t have enough funds and there’s no way we could find another source of revenue or introduce spending cuts of the same order.”  On Sunday, a relieved Maurer said the outcome wasn't a surprise but he was happy by the size of the yes vote, ten percentage points higher than the ...

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