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Last update on June 15, 2020

We re-chart Switzerland according to its regional, political and language differences.

The different language communities within Switzerland also have distinct political mentalities. The French-Swiss have a more pro-European outlook, while the German-Swiss are less likely to support a stronger federal government. This map expands Swiss political geography into a full-blown cartogram of regional political mentalities in Switzerland.

The Swiss political map

A cartogram being a map transformed by non-geographic data, there is very little left of Switzerland’s familiar shape to recognize here. The confederation’s geography is transformed by two axes, from liberal to conservative (north-south) and from left-wing to right-wing (east-west). The colors denote the country’s main language areas: German (green), French (red) and Italian (yellow). Higher altitude lines correspond with higher population density.

Regional political distinctions in Switzerland

The French-Swiss area generally is more liberal and left-wing than the rest of Switzerland, but with significant internal diversity. Collonge-Bellerive is among the most liberal municipalities in Switzerland. However, it’s rather more right-wing than Geneva and Lausanne, the largest cities of la Suisse romande (French-Switzerland). Delémont apparently is the hotbed of socialist agitation in Switzerland. Italian-Switzerland is equally left-wing, but not quite as liberal as the French-Swiss.

Politics and language in Switzerland

If one draws a line from the map’s southwestern to its northeastern corner, one notices that Deutschschweiz (German-Switzerland) takes up the entire conservative/right-wing half of the island. The only German-speaking areas outside of this half are the urban centers of Basel, Zürich, Bern, Luzern and St Gallen. These are more liberal and left-wing than the rest of German-speaking Switzerland; however, they’re still more conservative and right-wing than French-speaking Switzerland. Urbanity is a good predictor of left-wing politics, while speaking German appears to correlate to a more right-wing outlook.

Thus, on the axis of Swiss political mentalities, super-conservative Unteriberg is the mirror-image of ultra-liberal Collonge-Bellerive. Right-wing Küsnacht is just about as far away on the political spectrum as one can get from left-wing Delémont.

This map of regional political mentalities also notes some political toponyms unlikely to appear on a regular map, such as the Arc Lémanique (Lémannic Arc), the most liberal area of French-Switzerland, on the Lac Léman, and the Zürcher Goldküste (Zurich Gold Coast), an equally liberal, but more right-wing area in German-Switzerland.

Map: Michael Hermann and Heiri Leuthold
Download the English pdf here.