"The cleavage between the German-speaking and the French-speaking Swiss with respect to European integration: interpretative essay"

Citation data:

Page: 40

Publication Year:
Usage 909
Downloads 909
Repository URL:
Rene. Schwok
conference paper description
[From the Introduction]. On December 6, 1992, a majority of the Swiss population decided not to adhere to the European Economic Area (EEA). 50.3% of the voters and 16 out of 23 cantons pronounced themselves against the EEA. In the German-speaking part of Switzerland, 56% of the population expresses a negative vote. In the “Germanophone” cantons of Uri, Schwytz, Unterwald and Appenzell (1), close to 70% spurned the EEA treaty. In the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, the rejection rate reached 61.5%. On the other hand, in the French-speaking part, approximately 72% of the citizens expressed themselves in favor of European integration. In the "Francophone" cantons of Neuchatel, Jura, Geneva and Vaud, close to 80% approved the Treaty. Moreover, certain peripheral regions of the French-speaking part favored the EEA to a much greater extent than such economic, political and cultural centers as Zurich, Basle and Berne. Indeed, agricultural and traditional valleys of the Valais such as the Val d'Herens approved the Treaty by 65.9% whereas the approval rate in the first german-speaking city reached but 55.5%. This study aims only to understand why such a cleavage occurred, (2) and at a better conceptualization of the debate. A great number of analyses has already been published. Nevertheless, a general synthesis that would integrate all explanations is still missing. The Swiss case is especially interesting because it is the first time that the challenge of the European integration along the EC lines divides so sharply the main populations of a country.