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Swiss majority support closer NATO ties

The war in Ukraine forced Switzerland to reflect on its neutrality. Alongside growing pessimism is a growing willingness to work with international organizations. According to a survey released this week, 55% want closer ties with Switzerland and NATO.

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Swiss in January 2023 were less optimistic about the future than they were in January 2022, according to the study, published by the Military Academy of ETH Zurich (MILAK) and the Security Research Center (CSS) of ETH Zurich. 81% (–5 percentage points were optimistic about the future of Switzerland and 24% (–7 points) were optimistic about the future of the world. This optimism The decline was almost certainly due to the war that broke out in Ukraine in February 2022, the report said.

Expectations for the future and safety

But despite the war, the public’s general sense of security remains high. In January 2023, 94% of respondents felt safe. This corresponds to the January 2022 and his June 2022 findings.

trust in institutions

Trust in institutions remains high. None of the institutions surveyed lost confidence compared to last year. Switzerland’s neighbors continue to enjoy high levels of trust. This year, the Swiss trusted the US far more than she did four years ago. The loss of trust in the authoritarian states of China, Iran, North Korea and Russia has been particularly striking and, in some cases, significant.

Biggest perceived threat

When asked open-ended about the three biggest threats to Switzerland, the top three were war and conflict (42%), climate change and environment (34%) and financial and economic crisis (31%).

Foreign and security policy

While the majority still want a purely economic relationship with the EU, only a minority want EU membership.

United Nations affairs became popular. A slight majority (55%) also want closer ties with NATO, an increase of 10 points compared to January 2021. Only one-third of those surveyed supported joining NATO.


Compared to January 2022, the neutrality principle has less support, but still has very high support at 91% (-6 percentage points). On the other hand, ‘discriminatory’ neutrality, taking a clear stance in political conflicts but remaining neutral in military conflicts, continues to be supported by a small majority (57%). The desire to take a clear stance in foreign military conflicts rose from 18% to 27%. European defense alliance membership is significantly more sought after (35%, +12 percentage points compared to January 2021).

When it comes to the characteristics of neutrality, it is of great importance to the Swiss that neutrality is internationally recognized, expresses humanitarian concern and is part of the Swiss identity. The feature that neutrality is armed is the least important.

Sanctions against Russia

An overwhelming majority believed that sanctions against Russia were compatible with neutrality. Of his respondents, 75% believe the sanctions are justified and 70% believe they are compatible with neutrality. However, about a third shared the opinion that Switzerland can no longer conduct good offices as a result of the sanctions.

defense policy

Compared to January 2022, the Swiss want their armed forces to be more defensive. A clear majority believes the military should be fully equipped, and 78% believe it is necessary. The view that Switzerland spends too little on defense is more widespread today than it was in the January 2022 survey, but support for increased defense spending is declining. And the Swiss male-only conscription system is still supported by most people.

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