Should we stay or should we join? 30 years of Sovereignism and direct democracy in Switzerland.

Mueller, Sean; Heidelberger, Anja (2020). Should we stay or should we join? 30 years of Sovereignism and direct democracy in Switzerland. European politics and society, 21(2), pp. 182-201. Taylor & Francis 10.1080/23745118.2019.1632582

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Sovereignism is on the rise. Defending a nation’s political autonomy, fortifying its international borders, preserving cultural identity and shielding the domestic economy from the adverse effects of globalization are core demands. Often contained within research on populism or Euroscepticism, this article conceptualizes Sovereignism as an ideology on its own. Three separate, yet connected, dimensions of Sovereignism are distilled: political, which negates sharing ultimate decision-making with supranational bodies; economic, which concerns market access and trade liberalization; and cultural, which regards foreign citizens as a threat to national culture. Empirically, we track the impact of sovereigntist arguments on citizens’ voting behaviour, by analysing all 68 referendums held in Switzerland between 1983 and 2016 concerning supranational integration, economic ties, immigration, asylum and/or cultural demarcation. We rely on a multilevel analysis of post-vote survey replies to show how the three dimensions interact with party politics, values and contextual factors. Our main finding is that all three dimensions of Sovereignism continue to matter, but that values and party politics have in the meantime absorbed a big part of their impact.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Political Science

UniBE Contributor:

Müller, Sean, Heidelberger, Anja


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science




Taylor & Francis




Anja Heidelberger

Date Deposited:

03 Jun 2020 15:41

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:38

Publisher DOI:


Additional Information:

Issue 2: Special Issue: Linking Sovereignism and Populism: Citizens and parties in contemporary Western Europe


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