Switzerland after the Second World War Part I

After the Second World War, Switzerland first had to overcome the isolation into which it had gotten itself through the sometimes involuntary economic collaboration – like other countries – with the Axis powers. In the Washington Agreement of May 1946 with the Allies, according to estatelearning, Switzerland undertook to pay CHF 250 million in gold in return for their waiver of all claims relating to the Swiss National Bank’s (SNB) gold deal with the German Reichsbank. As part of the expansion of the economy and the rebuilding of foreign trade relations, the Federal Council sought economic cooperation v. a. with the market economy-oriented countries of western Europe (1948 co-founder of the OEEC, 1960 of the OECD).

In continuation of its policy of unconditional neutrality (without committing itself to ideological neutrality in the East-West conflict), Switzerland especially kept away from the formation of military blocs and international organizations with binding, supranational objectives. With the principle of “neutrality and solidarity”, it pursued a policy of increased participation in international aid agencies under Federal Councilor M. Petitpierre, 1945–61 head of the Political Department. Although she refused to join the UN, she joined her more culturally and economically oriented specialized organizations, e. B. 1946 FAO, 1949 UNESCO; In 1958 she became an associate member of GATT. Due to the political objectives of the EEC, Switzerland refused to join this supranational organization, but took part in the founding of the EFTA in 1960. The Federal Councilors Wahlen and W. Spühler continued the post-war line of foreign policy as head of the Political Department (1961–65 and 1966–70). In 1963 Switzerland became a member of the Council of Europe. In line with its humanitarian objectives, it took in many refugees, including 1956 from Hungary, 1959 from Tibet, 1968 from Czechoslovakia. In 1967 a new debate about joining the UN began.

As a result of the sense of community that grew during the Second World War and its economic successes, Switzerland moved closer to welfare state goals under liberal premises. Under the principle of recognition of the freedom of trade and industry, the federal government was given the opportunity to intervene in the economic article of the federal constitution. In addition, an old-age and survivors’ insurance (AHV) was set up. A successful referendum (“return to direct democracy”) in 1949 suspended the war-related powers of the federal government. Local agriculture was given strong legal protection. With the occupation of the Federal Council (according to the »magic formula«) with two representatives each from the FDP, the SPS and the Conservative Christian Social People’s Party (since 1970 Christian Democratic People’s Party [CVP]) as well as one representative from the Farmers, Trade and Citizens’ Party (since 1971 Swiss People’s Party [SVP]), the development solidified on »Concordance Democracy« (from 1989 onwards increasingly in domestic political criticism). – In 1959 the cantons of Vaud and Neuchâtel, and in 1960 the canton of Geneva, were the first to introduce women’s suffrage in their area. After a corresponding initiative at the federal level failed in 1959, a second one was adopted in a referendum in 1971 (Appenzell Innerrhoden was the last canton to introduce women’s suffrage in 1990). After a strong increase in the proportion of foreign workers, the population rejected a “referendum against foreign infiltration” in 1970. Federal Council P. Chaudet, 1956–66 head of the military department, initiated an army reform. – With the establishment of the Canton of Jura on January 1, 1979 (approved on September 24, 1978), a conflict that had developed since the late 1940s was initially defused; By agreement of 1994, an »Inter-Jurassic Assembly« was formed as a bi-cantonal body between Jura and Bern. – After debates since 1965, a commission presented the draft for a total revision of the Federal Constitution in 1977. In 1981 the population agreed to equal rights for men and women. The attempts by the government to combat the recession that began in the mid-1970s with new, constitutionally secured economic policy instruments only met with limited popular approval.

Domestically, after the mandate to the Federal Council to prepare a formal complete revision of the constitution (1987), the problems of transport policy – including the perspective of environmental protection – increasingly came to the fore. On September 29, 1992, the population approved the new railway-alpine crossing project by a large majority(NEAT). A referendum on February 20, 1994 called for transit goods traffic to be relocated from road to rail by 2004 (“Alpine Initiative”). There were also constitutional and electoral law issues (especially the right to vote for foreigners), additions to criminal law (e.g. inclusion of an anti-racism article in the penal code) and innovations in tax legislation (introduction of VAT on January 1, 1995). In 1996, Romansh was made the fourth official language in Switzerland.

Switzerland after the Second World War 1