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Swiss face new year with confidence

Raising a glass to 2006 in Switzerland Keystone

The Swiss are more optimistic about 2006 than their neighbours in Germany, Italy and France, an international survey has shown.

This content was published on January 1, 2006 - 18:23

But while 78 per cent expect either no change or an improvement in their own situation, a majority fear an increase in international conflicts and labour disputes.

The Gallup International poll surveyed 52,000 people across the world, including more than 1,000 people in Switzerland.

According to the findings, published in the SonntagsBlick newspaper, the Swiss are generally optimistic about their own situation; only 18 per cent expect their fortunes to deteriorate in 2006.

Swiss men are more optimistic than women and the young have higher hopes than older people.

While 78 per cent of Swiss think 2006 will be better or the same from a personal point of view, only 68 per cent of Germans, 63 per cent of Italians and 52 per cent of French feel the same way.

Reasons to be cheerful

Of Switzerland's neighbours the French are the most pessimistic, with 43 per cent expecting life to be worse in 2006.

The SonntagsBlick said the Swiss were more positive than their neighbours because they enjoyed a better economic situation. Another reason was the consensus form of government, according to sociology professor Kurt Imhof.

The Swiss president, Moritz Leuenberger, said he was pleased with the findings.

"We shouldn't subscribe to the current fashion to view everything negatively. We can achieve much more if we are optimistic," he told the paper.

From a regional perspective, Africans were most optimistic about 2006, with eastern and central Europeans least optimistic.

Of all nationalities questioned the Chinese and Vietnamese were the most optimistic, with 75 per cent convinced life would treat them better in 2006.

Social and international unrest

The Swiss are less hopeful about the situation in the workplace, with 53 per cent expecting a slight to big increase in unemployment, and 31 per cent expecting it to remain at the same level.

With regard to unemployment, Swiss respondents were more pessimistic than economists who expect the jobless rate to fall slightly. But their expectations were in line with those of their European neighbours.

Some 47 per cent of Swiss said they fear more strikes and industrial disputes, while 45 per cent expect the level of social discontent to remain static, and just five per cent expect a drop.

International conflicts are seen as a worry by a majority of Swiss, with 55 per cent expecting an increase and 31 per cent no change in 2006.

While the fear of increased international discord is shared by other European nationalities, in Asia and Africa only one in four think the number of conflicts will increase.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Around 52,000 people in 62 countries took part in the "Gallup International Voice of the People Survey".
In Europe 13,000 were surveyed, including 1,043 from Switzerland.
The poll was conducted in Switzerland by Isopublic on behalf of Gallup International from November 9-24.

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