NRP 40+ "Right-wing Extremism - Causes and Counter-measures"

The aim of the National Research Programme "Right-wing Extremism -Causes and Counter-measures" (NRP 40+) is to increase the knowledge of the causes, the profile, the extent and the consequences of right-wing extremist activities and attitudes in Switzerland. The programme particularly intends to promote research on the social context of right-wing extremism as well as the evaluation of potential counter-measures.

The results should establish a basis for future strategies for controlling and reducing right-wing extremism at municipal, cantonal or national levels. Furthermore, the programme intends to enhance links between research into right-wing extremism in Switzerland and related scholarship in other countries.

Facts & figures


CHF 4'000'000

President of the steering committee

Marcel A. Niggli, Seminar für Strafrecht, Universität Freiburg

Scientific secretariat

Stephanie M. Schönholzer, SNSF

Start of research

July/August 2003

  • Press release, 24 February 2009 (conclusion of NRP 40+)

    Dropdown Icon

    Right-wing extremism in Switzerland

    Launched in 2003, the National Research Programme “Right-wing extremism – causes and countermeasures” (NRP 40+), has now been completed.  One conclusion is that the way liberal societies see themselves departs from many of their citizens’ need for a national identity and for the rejection of anything that is unfamiliar. Right-wing extremism is either ignored or exaggerated. Both are a hindrance to objective discussion.

    The National Research Programme “Right-wing extremism – causes and countermeasures” (NRP 40+) presents its final publication “Right-wing Extremism in Switzerland”. It takes the international context into account and finds an alarming divergence between the way liberal western societies see themselves and many of their citizens’ very real need for a national identity and to protect themselves from anything they perceive to be alien.

    Even if a society disapproves of right-wing extremism, a considerable section of the population concerned is both xenophobic and racist in its attitude. Right-wing extremism also exists in Switzerland. It is primarily encountered in adolescents and young adults. In transitional phases of young people’s lives, right-wing attitudes and modes of behaviour are a way of standing apart or over-adjusting.

    The NFP 40+ not only examined right-wing extremism, but also the conditions allowing it to emerge and its environment, which also includes right-wing populism. The latter has a long tradition in Switzerland and has assumed a leading role internationally since the 1960s. The greater the importance of right-wing populism, the greater the ability of right-wing proponents to capture attention.  Special attention is devoted to extreme political stances in a media system that applauds sensationalism and tends to overstate and moralise on right-wing extremism. This hinders an objective discussion of the issue which affects society as a whole and makes implementing any solutions more difficult.

    The effectiveness of prevention programmes is difficult to substantiate. At a local level, key institutions (like the State, schools, police, youth work, church, associations) join forces to prevent extremism and alert the population to episodes of right-wing radicalism. Carrying out regular surveys of xenophobia, racism and right-wing extremism would also raise Swiss awareness. The Federal Council has resolved to set up an appropriate monitoring instrument.

    Dr. Marcel Niggli: Right-wing Extremism in Switzerland – National and International Perspectives. Nomos Verlag, Baden-Baden 2009. 301 pp., €30.

    National Research Programme “Right-wing extremism – causes and countermeasures” (NFP 40+)

    The NRP 40+, commissioned by the Federal Council in 2003, has gained new insights into right-wing extremism in Switzerland, factors in its development, how it expresses itself, where it occurs, its consequences and attitudes towards it.  The results of the 13 research projects, funded with a total of four million Swiss francs, create the basis for future-focused strategies in dealing with right-wing extremism at municipal, cantonal and national level. The programme also links research into right-wing extremism in Switzerland to corresponding research projects in other countries.