Swiss: ‘Black sheep’ cartoon ignites row

timesonline oct 07

One cartoon image has come to crystallise a bitter debate raging at the heart of the most divisive election campaign in the postwar history of Switzerland.

In posters displayed across the Alpine republic by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), a white sheep is shown kicking a black sheep off the red pastures of the Swiss flag. The caption states: “For greater security.” ...

Its poster, therefore, illustrated perfectly one of the party’s key policies, to reintroduce a law expelling foreign criminals once they have completed their sentence for crimes committed in Switzerland ...

Polls indicate that the People’s Party is likely to win elections due on October 21. The party is bankrolled by Christoph Blocher, the billionaire chemicals industrialist who is a lifelong campaigner against immigration and membership of the European Union.

However, his political opponents accuse him of stoking xenophobia ...

Police figures indicate that half of murders were committed by “foreigners” last year ... “We have about 20 per cent foreigners in the country and in the statistics around 40 per cent of crime ..."

The SVP wants to get tougher and has begun a debate on expelling the whole family of a teenage criminal, although it has now put this policy on the backburner. Three years ago it led a campaign to block liberalisation of the citizenship process with a poster showing dark hands reaching for Swiss passports.

Matthias Müller, a spokesman for the SVP, said: “The figures show that we have a severe problem with some immigrants. The increase of crime is caused by the lack of political will of our opponents. In order to cover their failure they try not to discuss the facts but to focus on a wrong interpretation of our campaign.” Growing international criticism of his party’s approach showed a “deep misunderstanding” of Swiss politics, he added. “We are not a racist party but we try to make clear that what is going on in Switzerland is a very dangerous tendency.”