Switzerland maintains its hold on seventh place, with strong performances in the Government and Enterprise sub-indices. It posts some of the highest scores in metrics on human development, human rights, and government effectiveness, and its revered quality of life is reflected in strong international polling scores for liveability. Although Switzerland’s polling performance dipped this year from first to fourth place, due to comparatively weaker perceptions of its culture, Swiss neutrality remains a potent soft power asset. The country continues to be among the most trusted countries in the world, as reported in the polling data, and it is easy to see why. Staunchly neutral and with a heavily devolved governance structure, Switzerland shows how to combine economic might with political stability to secure a world-class reputation. It is home to a number of international organisations and NGOs, most notably the Red Cross and UN Office at Geneva, and hosts the annual meetings of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Switzerland stands out as a beacon of global stability and security, and its impeachable neutrality makes it one of the world’s most effective arbiters and peace mediators, which is especially critical as the world navigates unchartered political waters. On the flip side, while stability and governance may be Switzerland’s greatest strength, it hinders the nation from being seen as truly exciting on a global stage. Greater efforts in promoting some of its soft power assets – stunning scenery, adventure tourism, and world-renowned universities – will help Switzerland be seen as more than just a neutral platform for discussing the world’s challenges.
The phrase “it runs like a Swiss watch” captures much of Switzerland’s soft power strengths. The Swiss government and political system, while largely anonymous to the world, delivers outstanding outcomes for the Swiss population. By actively placing citizens at the heart of governance, Switzerland fosters civic engagement and serves as proof that increased a multi-lingual and diverse country need not hinder effective governance. Switzerland also remains highly competitive as world-class professional services and advanced manufacturing economy, making it one of the most attractive European business hubs.
Switzerland’s weakest performance comes in Digital. Due to its highly devolved structure, and a presidency that rotates between the seven members of the country’s federal council every year, the Swiss president has a relatively low online following. In addition, Switzerland’s outstanding living standards also come at a high cost, literally, for citizens and visitors alike. Zurich and Geneva regularly feature in the world’s most expensive cities, and likely contributes to Switzerland’s relatively low tourism count.
While Switzerland’s federal power structure might come as a welcome relief to the personality politics that consume international media, it is important that is has a distinct voice in global issues. Switzerland should invest in wider digital diplomacy efforts, particularly its Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, and leverage the extensive influence of the numerous multilateral agencies to boost its online presence. A more concentrated effort in promoting its cultural offering and innovative activities e.g. “Crypto Valley”, would complement Switzerland’s strong record in governance.