Swiss national pride at record high - survey

Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:12am EST

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* Pride driven by neutrality, independence

* Swiss economy has fared much better than EU neighbours

* Swiss strongly oppose EU membership

ZURICH, Dec 11 (Reuters) - National pride in Switzerland, which has weathered the economic downturn much better than the neighbouring euro zone, is at a record high, a survey showed on Tuesday.

The poll of 1,000 voters conducted by research institute Gfs Bern on behalf of bank Credit Suisse showed that 86 percent are proud of their country, equalling the record result of 2007.

"This national pride is based much more on political factors in 2012 that it was in the previous year. At the top of the list of such factors are neutrality and independence," Credit Suisse said in a statement.

Credit Suisse said a large number of respondents also stressed their pride in Switzerland's strong tradition of direct democracy and its education system, while peace, order and cleanliness have also gained in importance.

Switzerland is not a member of the European Union or the euro single currency and has been an island of relative economic stability in recent years as countries in the bloc have seen unemployment and government debt soar.

"A substantial proportion of the population believes that the Swiss economy is sound and that the euro crisis will not have a serious and sustained impact on the country," Credit Suisse said.

Switzerland's arms-length relationship with the EU has been held up as a model by some in Britain, where anti-EU sentiment is pervasive. Although Prime Minister David Cameron has warned against following the Swiss example.

Asked about their confidence in institutions, the survey showed Swiss continue to rank the EU at the bottom of the list.

Last week, Switzerland marked the 20th anniversary of its voters' rejection of membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) in a referendum, prompting the country to negotiate a bilateral relationship with its largest trading partner.

A separate recent survey by Gfs Bern showed that 63 percent of Swiss still support this bilateral approach, with only 17 percent in favour of eventual EEA or EU membership.

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