Fear of Europe

Zurich billboard. May 2012.

Few entities inspire as much fear as Europe. Whether it’s the two World Wars, the Holocaust, or colonialism, the bad rap has generally been justified.  Add the current economic crisis to the list, and it’s hard to imagine the anxiety ever going away.

Once again, it appears, the continent is on the verge of imploding. Predictable doesn’t even begin to describe the situation.

On the surface, it’s enough to make you sympathize with rightists who want to limit “outside” influence on Switzerland. Asking Swiss to approve a constitutional amendment that would require the government to seek voter approval of treaties with foreign governments (the goal is to halt creeping EU accession) the AUNS initiative is typically paranoid and nationalist in its orientation.

Urging voters to reject the initiative (Swiss are due to vote on it on June 17) this Zurich poster is a surprising relief from what Switzerland has become best-known for abroad: Racist and Islamophobic billboard adverts, stoking fear of migrants. In place of the usual missiles-as-minarets-imagery, we get a young woman bearing a staff, weighed down by a rock-like object.

Indeed, the effort is noteworthy not just politically, but also in terms of its information distribution strategy. [See the collection of downloadable posters in French, German and Italian.] Still, considering how many Swiss recently told pollsters that it was a blessing to not be a member of the EU, efforts like this may do little to prevent the AUNS initiative from passing.

Photograph courtesy of Jennifer Crakow

1 comment

  1. I thought Switzerland was best known for harbouring ill gained riches and the people who own them, as well as the occasional bat shit crazy dictator that has given up their sunny climes and genocide to enjoy the wonders of high end European luxury.
    Oh – and chocolate and watches.

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