On the  1st of March 2014, from 14:30 – 16:00, Bern accommodated a crowd of demonstrators who set up right across from the Swiss Federal Parliament. were present at this demonstration in the capacity of taking photos, video and getting feedback from the crowd. Following is our take on the event.

Crowd composition:

  • Extremely diverse
  • It seemed like anyone who had a bone to pick with society, capitalism, organised government etc, was taking advantage of this moment to “unify” with their comrades
  • Communists, Marxists, Anarchists, Anti-capitalists, Vegans, Punks and Drunks … etc …
  • Foreigners, Tourists, Immigrants and of course some Swiss
  • MANY French speaking people and many French signs

Who we spoke with:

  • Tourists
  • Swiss people
  • Immigrants

Impressions from the event and from our conversations with participants:

  • Most of the event was filled with loud rock music – something like 80% of the 1 & 1/2 hours
  • The time without loud music was filled with mini-speeches and the shouting of slogans to the crowd
  • Generally it seemed like the event was populated by not very intellectual people – many, if not most, looked like they were from the fringes of society
  • There was a general acceptance that the initiative being backed by the SVP was sufficient grounds to reject it – not even bothering to read the initiative text and/or study the issues presented.

Feedback from those we spoke with:

  • None of those we spoke with had read the initiative text – even though some claimed at the beginning to have read it.

We had with us a copy of the initiative text in German, French and Italian, and we repeatedly offered those we spoke with to read it. For many, if not most, it was too obvious that this was the first time they had read it!

  • The initiative is racist and discriminatory.

These were the most common accusations levelled against the initiative. We showed the initiative text again and asked that they please point out what part of the text is racist and/or discriminatory – not one person could find anything to match those labels.

  • The initiative is bad for the economy

Is it? How bad? What numbers/statistics are there to show this? And … is the right to determine your nations own immigration policy not worth something!?

  • The initiative is bad for Switzerland’s image

There are many people throughout the world whoa re proud of what Switzerland has done. The largest amount of negativity is coming from big business and big government, both in the EU and is Switzerland. Who are we trying to “win over” with our “image” and how many other rights should the Swiss give up in the race to “better it’s image”!?

  • Switzerland has an obligation to share it’s wealth, since it’s wealth doesn’t all come from the Swiss people

All wealthy nations have certain amounts of wealth which comes to them from outside that nation. Mostly people here are referring to Swiss banking.
Why is it that Swiss banking is so popular amongst the richest and most powerful of the world? Hasn’t it got something to do with Switzerland not starting or contributing to wars of aggression, keeping to itself much of the time, being neutral and not having a habit of sticking it’s nose into the affairs of other nations, not funding a military machine etc – all of which makes it a stable place, a haven for those looking to store their wealth!? And can not these factors be accredited to the Swiss people who built this nation, who worked hard and quietly!? So then are not the Swiss people then simply reaping what they have sewn!?

  • Switzerland sells weapons to other nations, and thus has an obligation to accept refugees from those nations without quotas et al

Libya was used as an example. Of all the reports on the Libyan conflict and after all the video and photographs, where is the evidence of any Swiss weaponry being used? – There is none! Where is was found that Swiss ammunition was being used in Libya it was due to the first-hand buyer of that ammunition illegally redistributing the ammunition to Libyan rebels. (Source)

Switzerland also has very strict laws restricting to whom it sells weapons to, and at the first sign that it’s weapons could be used in a way that contravenes these laws it ceases to do business with the party in question.

Furthermore, if Switzerland had any obligation to Libya, or Syria etc … it would have to be proportionate to the amount of Swiss weapons used in the conflict compared to all other weapons – this then would be a drop in the bucket!

  • The initiative is detrimental to research projects

Most people have never looked into the details of FP8 (Horizon 2020), much less FP7 or FP6 etc … When the facts and figures are shown there is not much left in this argument against the initiative.

  • Switzerland cannot do without the EU, but the EU can do without Switzerland

This is possibly the largest stick that those opposed to the initiative have to wield. However, like so many other “sticks” and “twigs”, when examined closely it is a moot point. (Read more …)


In conclusion we found the event to be pretty close to what we expected. What we did not expect was the issue relating to people’s lack of having read the initiative text. We also did not expect there to be so few people of Swiss heritage.

Police presence was very soft and the only presence we witnessed in action was 5 police calmly escorting a few people to a police van nearby. The event seemed to finish on time and the mess left behind was cleaned up by organisers and volunteers.