Cultural Revolutions

Rejecting E.U. Membership

E.U. Membership was rejected by 77 percent of the Swiss on March 4. Inevitably, parallels are being drawn with what happened in Denmark last September, when the Danes rejected further E.U. integration by saying "no" to the euro. The Swiss, however, did not even want to begin investigating incorporation into the European Union. As in Denmark, the people of Switzerland had to face a pro-E.U. coalition of forces composed of virtually the entire political and business establishment, leading unions, and mass media.

Nonetheless, E.U. membership remains the long-term desire of the current Swiss government. Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss has made it clear that the referendum's failure "would in no way deflect [the Swiss government] from its pro-European course . . . The 'no' vote could in no way be interpreted as meaning a rejection of EU membership as such." This was also the opinion of the E.U. Commission, whose spokesman said that the result did not indicate that the Swiss were opposed to E.U. membership, but rather that they did not want to begin negotiations now. The Financial Times (March 5) quoted the commission as saying that "they decided to answer the question later. This is a choice that we will respect."

The referendum was promoted by the New European Movement Switzerland (NEMS), part of the mostly socialist coalition that lobbied for the initiative's passage with...

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