According to the Credit Suisse worry barometer, the environment was the number one concern for the Swiss population in 2022.
Although in percentage terms concern about the environment was unchanged from last year it rose in the ranking. The environment was followed in second and third place by AHV/retirement provision and energy, respectively, while the Covid pandemic was unsurprisingly no longer among the ten most important concerns.
In addition, the war in Ukraine is leaving its mark on Switzerland too: Optimism about the future has declined significantly, having been strong up to now.
The survey was done research institute gfs.bern on behalf of Credit Suisse. The survey of Swiss voters is done every year and focuses on their main concerns. Respondents are each asked to name their five top concerns. At 39%, environmental pollution (environmental protection, climate change, environmental disasters) is Switzerland’s new number-one concern in 2022. This figure is the same as last year. However, the COVID-19 pandemic – which easily topped the list in both 2020 (51%) and 2021 (40%) – disappeared from the list of top concerns. This allowed the environment to move up to the top spot this year. The topic of AHV/retirement provision lies in second place at 37%.
War in Ukraine
Although the war is directly cited as a concern by only 20% of the population (eighth place), there are at least three other top worries associated with the conflict in Ukraine. Concern about energy issues, for instance, is up massively at 25% (+11 percentage points) and now ranks third on the list of worries – in percentage terms on a par with concerns about the shape of relations with Europe and the EU. For the first time, uncertainty about the supply of energy, medicines, and food was mentioned by 21% of respondents (seventh place). While the main concern is primarily about ensuring the supply of energy in uncertain times and in winter, anxiety about energy issues is likely to affect the future energy situation in general – in other words, what Switzerland’s energy strategy will look like in the coming years, and where compromises may be unavoidable in terms of environment, nature conservation, and with regard to technologies such as nuclear power.
Inflation (fifth place, 24%) is another new entrant among the top five concerns. Healthcare – traditionally a key concern – is also cited by 24%, having been as high as 41% in 2018 and 2019. Finally, in ninth and tenth place are the two concerns involving migration issues (foreigners and refugees/asylum issues).
Economy and standards of living
Swiss voters are less optimistic about the economic future than was the case only a couple of years ago. However, this is not primarily down to fear of losing their job. On the contrary, unemployment has fallen out of the top ten concerns for the first time since 1988. Rather, the uncertainty revolves around the supply situation as well as whether and how the standard of living to which people are accustomed can be maintained amid the current circumstances and multiple crises. Voters’ assessment of their own economic situation does not yet show any deviation versus previous years, with 65% (+0 pp) of respondents describing it as good or very good, and only 6% (+0 pp) as bad or very bad. However, a look at the coming 12 months shows a significantly different picture: No less than 19% (+9 pp) fear a worsening of their personal circumstances – the highest percentage in the survey’s 27-year history.
Against this background, it is reassuring to note that at the same time trust in the three important institutions of the Federal Council (68%), police (67%), and the Federal Supreme Court (66%) is broad-based and stable. At a lower level, the same applies to the other institutions mentioned in the survey, such as the Swiss National Bank, Council of States, National Council, and political parties – indeed there is even evidence of a slight upward trend here. Although pride in being Swiss has tended to dip slightly, it remains very high at 77% (–1 pp). The armed forces have been the biggest gainers in terms of confidence (+8 pp to 48%), reflecting an increased need for security in uncertain geopolitical times.