Edited By Kim Christiaens, Idesbald Goddeeris and Magaly Rodríguez García
Switzerland: A Second Wave or the Decline of the ‘68 Movement?
Although recent historiography has considerably extended the periodization of what is generally known as the ‘1968’ movement and come to integrate the 1970s, the importance of the campaigns of solidarity with Chile within this cycle of protest remains largely neglected.1 This chapter explores the link between the solidarity campaigns and the broader social and political movements of the 1960s and 1970s in Switzerland. During this time, while Switzerland was witnessing a period of unprecedented economic growth, Swiss society remained highly conservative, culturally and ideologically. Women, for instance, could not vote at the federal level until 1971. Anti-communism was particularly strong, and the workers’ movement had been weakened by a ‘work peace’ agreement dating from 1937 that prevented strikes and ensured social compromise. The Swiss Federal Police, since the interwar period, had undertaken mass, secret surveillance of the population, targeting mainly left-wing activists.2 The political scene was based on a consensus system, dominated by elites that had not been renewed since the 1930s. These elites belonged to parties ranging from the center-right to the far right (the strongest ones being the Free Democratic Party, the Christian Democratic Party and the Swiss People’s Party). Of the seven executive ministers of the Federal Council that constituted the federal government, five were members of parties on the right, whereas two were socialists. Similarly, parties on the right also dominated the Federal Assembly elected in 1971. In the National Council (lower house), they had around three quarters of the...
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