Switzerland during the Cold War (1945–1989)

Original photo of the hedgehog "Wehrhafte Schweiz" (fortress Switzerland) pavilion at Expo 64 in Lausanne
The hedgehog pavilion: "Fortified Switzerland" at Expo 64, Lausanne © keystone

A consociational government, which was known as a “concordance government” and which included the Social Democrats, was formed during the post-war period. From 1959, the four largest political parties permanently divided the seven government seats among themselves in a fixed constellation known as the “magic formula”.

During the post-war period, Switzerland experienced an economic boom. Its traditional economic strength was in the industrial sector, but in the last quarter of the 20th century, Switzerland transformed itself into an economy with a service sector that employed three quarters of the labour force. This process resulted in a significant increase in the standard of living, a steady improvement in working conditions and social security, and an ever-growing variety of consumer goods.

As a small and open economy, Switzerland was and is dependent on access to foreign markets. At the same time, during the Cold War it pursued a policy of strict neutrality between the two blocs, although it considered itself part of the West in economic, political and cultural terms.

Switzerland during the Cold War (1945-1989) (PDF, 178.4 kB, English)