30 Jahre Deutsche Einheit Mehr erfahren
Eine Frau geht an einer Weltkarte, die aus Kinderporträts besteht, am Freitag (18.06.2010) im JuniorMuseum in Köln vorbei.

3.7.2012 | Von:
Noemi Carrel


Social Stakeholding and Participation

The opportunities of the foreign population for having a stake in and participating in different areas of society differ in part from those of Swiss citizens. Different rights, such as the right to vote at the national level, are accorded exclusively to Swiss citizens.

Nevertheless, because of federalism sizable differences exist at the local level as far as the awarding of rights to political participation is concerned. Thus, in some regions, in particular in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, voting rights for female and male foreigners have been introduced at the communal level and in part also at the cantonal level.[1]

As far as labor market integration is concerned, differences may be found with respect to employment, professional status, wage levels and the rate of unemployment. Compared with Swiss citizens, the foreign population shows a greater percentage of people who lack a post-compulsory school education. In addition, immigrants are more frequently found in industries characterized by a low level of wages and greater dependency on economic conditions. On the whole, female and male foreigners in Switzerland are affected to a significantly greater extent by poverty and unemployment. This is true particularly of people from southern and southeast Europe, above all those who have already resided in Switzerland for many years. Contrasting with this is the situation of new, highly qualified immigrants from northern, central and western Europe, who are strongly represented in leadership positions and in academic professions. In contrast to highly qualified people from the Balkan region, Turkey and non-European countries, they are usually unaffected by occupational disqualification. At the same time, they show a low rate of poverty and unemployment.[2]

A look at the educational situation shows that young people in Switzerland are not equally represented in the various forms of post-compulsory education. Most foreign young people undergo an apprenticeship. In sixth form grammar schools (leading to the Maturität or higher education entrance qualification) and in tertiary training courses, they are clearly underrepresented. This is especially true of young people of Portuguese nationality and citizens from southeast European countries. In basic apprenticeships and pre-vocational training courses [3] they are, by contrast, heavily represented. At the same time there is a very significant connection between an individual’s socioeconomic status, their parents’ level of education and the educational success of foreign school students. Nonetheless, young people of the second generation of foreigners generally attain a higher level of education than their parents.[4]

Integration Policy

In Switzerland, as far as the integration of the foreign population is concerned, up until the end of the 20th century a policy of ‘laissez-faire’ was practiced. Social participation was expected to be ensured primarily via the labor market and the educational system. In addition, a gradual integration of the foreign population into the Swiss welfare system took place. The latter, along with the fact that immigration was not a temporary phenomenon and that the foreign population permanently established itself in Switzerland, meant that the issue of a systematic policy of integration took on increased importance.[5]

The ‘Federal Act on Foreign Nationals’ (AuG) which has been in force since 1 January 2008 finally created the basis for a nationwide Swiss policy of integration. It replaced the ‘Swiss Federal Law on the Temporary and Permanent Residence of Foreign Nationals’ (Bundesgesetz über Aufenthalt und Niederlassung der Ausländer; German acronym: ANAG) and embodied in law the concept of ‘integration’, while nonetheless foregoing a practical definition of the concept. The aim of the policy of integration is, among other things, that the foreign population should have equal access to and a stake in the economic, social and cultural life of Switzerland. At the same time, female and male foreigners are expected to contribute their share to integration in keeping with the principle of ‘promoting and demanding’ (Fördern und Fordern).

The AuG stipulates also taking into account the ‘integration potential’ of an individual when the admissions decision is being made. In granting a permanent residence permit as well as in making decisions concerning the continued stay of the individual, particularly in cases of repatriation and deportation as well as in cases where entry is refused, a person’s level of integration should be taken into account. The law also contains provisions on the conclusion of so-called integration agreements in the framework of which the renewal of a residence permit is contingent on certain conditions being fulfilled, such as attendance at a language or integration course. Exempted from the conclusion of an integration agreement are citizens of an EU or EFTA country. According to AuG, the federal government, the cantons and the communities also have to fulfill a duty to inform. On the one hand, they are required to inform female and male foreigners of their rights and responsibilities as well as of the living and working conditions in Switzerland. On the other hand, they must inform the entire population concerning migration policy and the situation of the foreign population.

These new integration policy provisions introduced by the AuG raise various questions. Thus, it remains unclear what precisely is meant by ‘integration’ and how a person’s ‘level of integration’ can be measured. A lack of clarity also obtains concerning the practical use and configuration of obligatory integration measures. In addition, with reference to the integration agreements, the unequal treatment of EU/EFTA and third-country citizens has also been criticized. On the whole, the guidelines of the federal government allow for a good deal of leeway and thus a key role is assigned to the cantons in the implementation of integration policy.[6]


Arn/Mordasini (2006).
Swiss Federal Statistical Office: The Statistical Encyclopedia, Bundesamt für Statistik (2008).
Pre-vocational training courses (Vorlehre) are designed to provide basic professional qualifications. They last one year and are recommended to those adolescents whose prior training does not yet meet the entrance requirements for their chosen apprenticeship. An elementary apprenticeship (Anlehre) generally lasts two years and is recommended to youths who would presumably encounter difficulties within a regular apprenticeship. Neither of these awarded degrees are equivalent to the degree awarded for a regular apprenticeship.
Federal Office for Statistics: The Statistical Encyclopedia, Bundesamt für Statistik (2008), Bolzman et al. (2003), Organisation für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung OECD (2001).
Hoffmann-Nowotny (1985), Piñeiro et al. (2009), Swiss Federal Commission for Questions on Migration EKM.
Swiss Federal Commission for Questions on Migration EKM, Menet/Wichmann (forthcoming), Prodolliet (2006), Tripartite Agglomerationskonferenz TAK (2008), Wichmann et al. (2011).


Zuwanderung, Flucht und Asyl: Aktuelle Themen

Ein Kurzdossier legt komplexe Zusammenhänge aus den Bereichen Zuwanderung, Flucht und Asyl sowie Integration auf einfache und klare Art und Weise dar. Es bietet einen fundierten Einstieg in eine bestimmte Thematik, in dem es den Hintergrund näher beleuchtet und verschiedene Standpunkte wissenschaftlich und kritisch abwägt. Darüber hinaus enthält es Hinweise auf weiterführende Literatur und Internet-Verweise. Dies eröffnet die Möglichkeit, sich eingehender mit der Thematik zu befassen. Unsere Kurzdossiers erscheinen bis zu 6-mal jährlich.

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