Leapfrogging Canada and Italy to claim the top spot in our international polling data, Switzerland is clearly one of the world’s most respected and well-liked countries. And it’s easy to see why. Staunchly neutral and with a heavily devolved governance structure, Switzerland shows us how to combine economic might with political stability to secure a world-class reputation. Home to a number of international organisations and NGOs, Switzerland stands out as a beacon of global stability and security – qualities especially critical as the world enters unchartered political waters. On the flip side, while stability and governance may be Switzerland’s greatest strength, it also hinders the nation from being seen as truly exciting on a global stage. Greater effort in promoting some of its other soft power assets – stunning scenery, exciting adventure tourism, and world-renowned universities – will help Switzerland to be seen as more than just a neutral platform for discussing the world’s challenges.
The Swiss political system boasts strong elements of direct democracy – a particularly impressive feat given the country’s multilingual, multi-ethnic, and multi-confessional society. By actively placing citizens at the heart of its governance, Switzerland fosters civic engagement and serves as proof that increased direct democracy need not hinder effective governance. It is unsurprising to see Switzerland secure second place of the Government sub-index.
Switzerland’s outstanding living standards, domestic political stability, and economic strength comes at a cost for citizens and visitors alike. Costs for international tourists are high, and Zurich and Geneva regularly feature in the world’s top five most expensive cities.
Despite consistently featuring in the top-10, Switzerland’s performance across the sub-indices is mixed. A more concentrated effort on digital diplomacy and engagement – along with greater emphasis on the country’s cultural offering – would complement Switzerland’s strong record in governance.