Friday, July 23, 2010

Forging a Greater Switzerland

Greater Switzerland

The article below reads like a hoax: The SVP has proposed that Switzerland annex ethnically compatible adjacent regions of France, Germany, Austria, and Italy, and thereby increase its population by 243%.

But read all the way to the punch line at the end, and you’ll realize that it’s not a joke at all:

Greater Switzerland Just Might Take Off

The Swiss far-right wants to expand the country by annexing German, French, Austrian and Italian border regions, reports Gazeta Wyborcza. The Swiss People’s Party (SVP) floated the idea in June but only now has submitted a draft proposal calling for necessary changes to the constitution to make the enlargement possible. The regions in question are the German state of Baden Württemberg, French departments Alsace, Savoy, Jura and Ain, Italian provinces Aosta, Como, Varese and Bozen and the Austrian province of Vorarlberg.

If the SVP plan were implemented, Switzerland’s population would increase by 17 million (it currently stands at 7 million) with Stuttgart becoming its largest city. “We should facilitate integration of these regions which are suffering under the rule of the European political class that has no interest in them whatsoever. Their citizens have been looking jealously at our self-governing state and long for a democracy with human face”, explain SVP politicians.
- - - - - - - - -
The Swiss authorities have not commented on the proposal which nevertheless caused much glee in the German embassy in Bern. Its employees are said to have been wondering when the Swiss will “start demanding access to the sea”. Their good humours disappeared at seeing the results of a poll conducted by the Swiss weekly Weltwoche. It showed that 63% of nearly 1,800 German, Italian and Austrian polled living in the border regions said they were in favour of joining Switzerland. Hardly surprising considering the fact that salaries in Switzerland are much higher than in, for example, Germany and that Germans already constitute a majority of lecturers at many Swiss universities.

Now we come to the sticky part: a substantial majority of the population in these border regions actually favors being annexed by Switzerland.

And, when you think about it, who wouldn’t? Despite the relatively high cost of living in Switzerland, the sclerotic economy and high unemployment in the European Union make the Confederation Helvetica look awfully good by comparison. The idea of an orderly and prosperous alternative to the EU must be irresistible.

However, we should all bear in mind the potential dangers of pushing for territorial exchanges on the basis of public opinion polls. The fact that 37% of the population does not want to become part of Switzerland should not be minimized. A change of sovereignty that leaves more than six million people in various degrees of unhappiness carries a potential for the sort of trouble with which we became all too familiar during the first half of the last century.

Between 1935 and 1940 large chunks of European territory changed hands, in most cases accompanied by plebiscites which confirmed the overwhelming popularity of the results. Yet somehow all that popular approval failed to prevent the most cataclysmic war in history.

It’s a sobering thought, one that enthusiasts for a Greater Switzerland should ponder well before pursuing any plans for territorial expansion.

Hat tip: C. Cantoni.


Anonymous said...


It is hilarious, and at the same time all too plausible.

Anonymous said...

How would this alter the ratio of Muslims to Christians/ethnic Europeans in the "gaining" country (Switzerland) and the "losing" (neighboring) countries?

Cyrus said...

Now that Kosovo's independence has been deemed legal in international law (here), and having been recognized by the potential territorial donors, the mechanism for growth is in place. As individual counties or provinces declared independence they could slowly but surely apply to join the Federation. I am skeptical of the proposal however. Would Swiss citizens really want more foreigners? They already complain about Germans for instance. Integrating such large numbers of people would prove unwieldy and the possible societal effects may prove unpalatable to the Swiss people.

Henrik R Clausen said...

The idea of an orderly and prosperous alternative to the EU must be irresistible.

I believe this is the key to the amazing figures we're seeing here. Switzerland as a genuine (as opposed to 'nominal') democracy, and has taken reasonably good care of its currency, the Swiss Franc.

This primarily constitutes a stark warning to the European Union to stop making empty promises and start delivering.

hank_F_M said...


An interesting idea. It won’t work for a thousand reasons unless the EU and it’s main countries effectively dissolve.

I suspect the no’s are in part geographically based.

I would suspect that in Mannheim, an industrial city at the north of Baden Württemberg, there would be much less support than in the Landkrieses (sic?) bordering Switzerland. A tighter selection criteria of what to annex would probably make the integration smoother.

A god thought provoker except those who need their thought provoked won’t even see it.

Pavelina said...

Have the Swiss people been polled about this? If I were Swiss, I'd say NO thanks.

Anonymous said...

If I'd be Swiss, I'd say yes, only if they wouldn't become Swiss citizens and hence wouldn't have any political power in the new country.

Anyway, the problem after WW1 was the utterly idiotic treaty forced on Germany combined with the stupidity of believing that people have a right to sovereignty. That's won on the battlefield with guns and ammo. And preferably YOUR guns and ammo.