Sunday, October 07, 2007

Counting Sheep...

"Create Security" - a 2007 political poster by the SVP (Schweizerische Volkspartei/Swiss People's Party)

The SVP has started an ad campaign discussing the need to keep Switzerland for the Swiss. The good Swiss are represented by white sheep, while the foreign criminal element is the kick-receiving black sheep.

We've spoken to friends in both Hamburg and Germany and understand some of the SVP's points. Switzerland has a Christian heritage and tight-knit social groups, they see immigrants who do not respect their rules as offensive and threatening. As experienced in the Netherlands and France, an poor handling of large foreign groups can add quite a bit of tension to the social fabric. To their credit, the SVP is not asking to remove all foreign elements, only the foreign criminal element. However, the posters send a negative message to all immigrant groups and are indicative of a xenophobia marching through Europe and and the US . Plus, it doesn't really bode well for your campaign when Germany's NPD adopts your slogan:

But do the foreign elements really represent a higher portion of the criminality in Switzerland? Can Switzerland remain its economic competitiveness without the low-cost labor that this immigration represents? Even if the cultural differences persist for one generation, with immigrant children in Swiss schools will it likely continue? or will campaigns like the one above only prove to be a self-fulfilling cycle where immigrant populations feel increasingly alienated from the Swiss population?

To us, the last question is the most worrisome. Being black sheep, albeit law-abiding ones, we're hoping that the Swiss make some judicious decisions in the upcoming elections.

Luckily, the SVP party doesn't represent all of Switzerland. Our favorite example of the opposition was a white and a black sheep walking through the main train station with a poster asking people to "Hug the Black Sheep".

She was so cute, we couldn't resist.

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