Switzerland. It was a historic moment when the UN General
Assembly in September adopted Switzerland as the UN's 190th
member state. According to
Countryaah website, the Swiss finally felt that full participation
in international cooperation outweighed strict neutrality.
Just over 54% of voters said yes to membership in the
referendum in May, but the proposal went through in just 12
of the country's 23 cantons - ie. by the smallest possible
The vote made it clear that there was a gap between the
French and German-speaking parts of the country. In the
French-speaking regions, two-thirds voted for membership; in
the German-speaking, an equal proportion voted against.
In another referendum, in June, the Swiss approved a
change in the country's strict abortion laws and thereby
adapted to most Other Countries in Europe. Abortion was
allowed until the week of pregnancy, while it was previously
only allowed if the mother's physical health was threatened.
The proposal was adopted by a large majority.
Another noteworthy referendum was held in November, when
the Swiss, with a marginal margin - less than 3,000 votes -
rejected a proposal to tighten asylum legislation. The
proposal had been tabled by the right-wing populist Party
SVP and would have given Switzerland the toughest refugee
laws in Europe. Switzerland had for a number of years had
the largest number of asylum seekers per inhabitant in
Towards the end of the year, it was clear that
Switzerland was close to stealing a large package of
measures that the EU has long sought to enforce to prevent
tax evasion. Several contradictory Member States demanded
that Switzerland take similar measures to join itself.
Switzerland opposed the requirement to disclose information
on EU citizens' bank accounts, other than in cases of
The labor movement is formed
The system of homework meant that the Swiss labor
movement was late organized in relation to the
industrialization of the country. The Swiss Workers' Union -
founded in 1873 - had no more than 3,000 members and the
Swiss Trade Union Union which replaced it in 1880 did not
exceed this figure until 10 years later. The first victory
of the labor movement was the Factory Act, approved by
Parliament in 1877, which limited the working day to 11
hours and improved the worker's situation. Until then, men,
women and children had to work 14 hours, without the minimum
conditions of hygiene and safety.
The formation of the Socialist Party in 1888 caused the
Liberals, in 1894 and the Conservatives, in 1894 and 1912 to
organize themselves throughout the country. For several
decades, the party's main goal was the establishment of the
proportional electoral system - an old democratic endeavor.
Foreign workers in Switzerland made up 15% of the
population in 1910. These were mostly anarchists and
socialists persecuted in their own country. They influenced
the labor movement towards radicalization.
The first World War led to strong tensions in Switzerland
- especially between the German- and French-speaking parts.
Under Ulrich Wile's leadership, the Swiss army cooperated
with Germany. Tensions were only weakened by France's
victory, with Switzerland formally approaching the Allies
and joining the League of Nations. Although rescinded after
three days due to pressure from the army, the general strike
in 1918 caused the civilian forces to form an anti-socialist
bloc. In the same year, the proportional electoral system
The 1919 election campaigns marked the end of liberal
hegemony. The Socialist Party's 20% voting share led the
Liberals to form a bloc with the peasants, who gained 14%,
while the Conservatives won the second ministerial post in
the Federal Council.
The 48-hour working week and factory law were passed,
along with improvements in support for the unemployed and an
extension of the agreements.