I saw this on a website called Quora. It is in answer to the question, “Why does Switzerland make it so hard to become a citizen?”
One of the Quora members responded, “A lot of good reasons…
What you have to keep in mind is the small size of Switzerland, 41,000 square kilometers, relative to its present 8-million population, citizens and foreign residents altogether (about 6 million and 2 million respectively).
After that, you have to take into account a certain defiance toward everything foreign.
Then a very important fact, or two actually:
citizenship is given “bottom up”, i.e. you don’t become a citizen of the Swiss confederation first, but of the place where you live. It is relatively easy to be made a citizen of a “big” city such as Zürich, Bern, Lausanne or Geneva, it’s much harder to become one of Frauenkappelen or Unterägeri. You have to prove your integration in theory, and in a small place you have to prove it in reality – all the more so that in smaller places, more often than not, it’s not an anonymous commission but a popular assembly who will decide on your fate.
Not that I approve of it, but some weeks ago, an otherwise perfectly integrated, working family saw their citizenship crushed because they were “too often in tracksuits, not in jeans like everyone else” and they “did not say hello to everyone” in the small village where they live (the fact they are Muslims did probably play a role too, but of course no one ever mentioned that in public…).
citizenship gives you a lot of symbolic power, it makes you part of the sovereign body of Switzerland, given the rules about initiatives and referendums.
That is why it is hard to become a Swiss citizen – and it can be felt in a village if you move, I can tell you! The place where I live, 10 km from where I was born, has made me feel a complete stranger… and I am a Swiss by passport from birth!”