A shared view of progress
Respondents oppose unlimited economic development, but when it comes to investing in Switzerland’s primary natural resource, intellectual capital, they feel it’s almost impossible to have too much progress.
At the time of Alfred Escher (1819 – 1882), the projects he proposed must have seemed positively utopian. A tunnel through the Gotthard massif? A commercial bank? A technical university? But these things came to pass, and they catapulted Switzerland – which was then a less advanced nation – into modern age. It became a dynamic country, well equipped to meet future challenges. With progress came growth and prosperity.
To mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of a true visionary, Credit Suisse has launched its new Progress Barometer. This representative survey details the projects and issues that the electorate most wants to move forward – and the areas in which respondents would prefer progress to slow down. Perceptions of progress are often ambivalent. Overall, the attitudes of the voters are somewhat progressive (+3.5 index points), while opinion leaders are distinctly progressive (+17.5).
The idea of moving traffic underground in densely populated Switzerland seems just as utopian today as Escher’s ideas did over a century ago – and perhaps for that very reason, it elicits the most favorable responses in the survey page. With respect to the economy, politics and society, see chart on opposite the survey’s results can be summarized as follows:
People are in agreement about what constitutes progress, and they agree on where progress should be more rapid. In most cases, however, opinion leaders are more progressive than the electorate as a whole.
Progress needs to be in harmony with Switzerland’s core values: the “militia” model of civic engagement, media diversity, a consensus-oriented political system, value creation at the local level – Switzerland’s values rest on a firm foundation.
People want to see progress in the areas that make Switzerland an education, infrastructure and technology. attractive location: The respondents are most interested in progress related to social particularly inclusion and a work-life balance. issues,
On the basis of real economic indicators, the Swiss Economics team at Credit Suisse has calculated the degree to which Switzerland is, in fact, progressive in the areas that were investigated 70. They conclude
see page that Switzerland currently finds itself in a very good position – in stark contrast to the first half of the 19th century. But further progress is required to maintain that position. On the following pages, Swiss people explain exactly where progress is needed.
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For our Progress Barometer, respondents were asked to respond to statements concerning trends in the economy, society and politics: “Indicate whether this trend should be accelerated or slowed down.”
With respect to the economy, would it be better to push forward or to slow down? The views of voters in general (–1.0) differed somewhat from those of opinion leaders (+19.5). Perhaps this is because opinion leaders are often part of the economic system, so they support it and want it to advance. As for voters, they may be growing slightly disillusioned with globalization and are perhaps especially skeptical about the increased numbers of foreign workers (more about this later).
The Swiss Economics team at Credit Suisse has examined the current state of Switzerland’s economy. Real economic indicators reveal that the structure of the Swiss economy is already very progressive (+43.0), and the country compares very favorably with others. This may be another reason why voters see no great need for further progress.
At the same time, however, the electorate is not fundamentally in favor of slowing down the economy. On the contrary – asked whether “more
tax revenues should be devoted to research,” respondents say yes (+35); similarly, they agree that “people need
further if they want to keep up” (+18). In these two training cases, their responses do not differ significantly from those of opinion leaders (+43 and +35).
Burkhard Varnholt, Chief Investment Officer Switzerland at Credit Suisse, is pleased that education is highly valued by the Swiss. As he points out, “The intellectual capital of the population is Switzerland’s only natural resource” 61.
see page The respondents also recognize the role of low
(+4) in attracting foreign companies corporate taxes and appreciate the benefits of (+3) – but
free trade in both cases opinion leaders want to move forward more rapidly (+22 and +17). Interestingly, voters tend to view (+10) as a means of
digitalization boosting efficiency rather than as a threat to their jobs. They are, at least, not opposed to the use of
(0) – indeed, that trend is welcomed by voters robots in French-speaking (+16) and Italian-speaking Switzerland (+12), in contrast to people in the country’s German-speaking region (–5). However, they do not want Switzerland to become purely a
(–7). service society
There is even more skepticism about competition from Whether it concerns
foreign skilled workers. foreigners working in Switzerland (–9) or the
of Swiss jobs abroad (–31), respondents outsourcing would like to slow down these trends. However, people in the French- and Italian-speaking regions take a favorable view of foreign skilled workers (+6 and +1, respectively); they also have more contact with these workers than do their counterparts in the German- speaking part of the country (however, they are not in favor of outsourcing).
The respondents are very concerned about the development of (–33), as they
cultivated land see it as the loss of an important aspect of Switzerland. Opinion leaders (–12), too, would like to slow down this trend.