Swiss Black Sheep Campaign 2016

Ironically, the SVP (Schweizerische Volkspartei or Swiss People’s Party)  first introduced their black sheep campaign in 2007, the same year I first came to Switzerland. The thinly veiled racist propaganda last showed up in 2014 when the country voted in favour of protecting its borders and cracking down on foreign criminals. Back then I was still a “dirty foreigner” but now I could do something about it.

I was pretty sad to see them in the train stations again, even knowing that I am safe now. With a slew of similar propaganda over the years, these kind of advertisements make you feel pretty unwanted as a foreigner, even as a white woman. I can only imagine how those with dark skin and a beard or a hijab feel looking at these posters.

The message is clear: we don’t want you.At first glance to the voters, it seems that SVP is only trying to rid the country of foreign murderers and rapists for the safety of our women and children, but they cross a line which would demote all foreigners, even ones born and raised in Switzerland, to second class citizens, liable for automatic deportation for something as small as traffic violations.
Simonetta Sommaruga, a member of the Swiss Federal Council from the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland (Sozialdemokratische Partei der Schweiz, SP) bid citizens to vote no against this dangerous initiative from February. So did my German neighbor, for obvious reasons!

Now as a Swiss, I do feel the need to protect our small country from those who would abuse the safety and welfare here, but foreigners also make up 25% of the country’s workforce. They are a vital part of our society, also accounting for second and third generation foreigners who were born in Switzerland and whose parents might have been born in Switzerland.

In one of the previous years, I became upset when Kay wanted to vote in support. I cried, “You’re voting against ME.” and he said, “Noooo, not you, I’m voting against bad criminals! They wouldn’t send you away!” But under the conditions SVP proposes, a lot of the decisions for deportation are taken out of the judge’s hands and made automatic… and the conditions for what would count as a violation were very concerning. It starts the country on a dark and isolating road which is not unsimilar to Trump suggesting we Americans build a big fence for Mexicans and ban Muslims from entering the country. None of these things are positive or helpful ways to deal with the immigration problems.

The terms of this initiative really put me off, so I voted against it. In the future I would vote to make sure foreigners are working hard and integrating where they need to, but the terms have to be right. In any case, I don’t appreciate or condone the use of these extremely racist ads. They are very clear: black/foreign = bad

It’s 2016… and it’s time to stop using ads like this to put the hate and mistrust in one of our largest resources in the workforce. Thankfully, the initiative failed by a narrow percentage, but it is certainly not the last time we will vote on this!

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