‘State Objectors’ on the Rise in Switzerland, Survey Finds

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An increasing number of people in German-speaking Switzerland are refusing to pay their taxes and flooding the administration with letters of complaint, report Swiss public broadcasters RTS and SRF.

This phenomenon has been on the increase since the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to an SRF survey, around 10,000 “state objectors” (“Staatsverweigerer” in German) are active in Switzerland. At the heart of their ideology is a distrust of the state, seen as too powerful an entity that enriches itself at the expense of its citizens.

“The idea is to attack the state, to paralyse it,” Dirk Baier, Director of the Institute for Delinquency and Crime Prevention at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences told RTS on Friday.

“What characterises state objectors is the way in which they justify their actions,” he said. “For example, one of the narratives is to say that the state is a business. So you actively oppose the state and justify it all in a conspiratorial way by saying that the state is too powerful, that some people want to get rich off the community.”

“Terrorism with paper”

As far as the administration is concerned, the actions of state objectors are causing a significant increase in their workload. Baier describes it as “paper terrorism”.

Debt collection offices are the first to be affected by this phenomenon, explains Thomas Winkler, President of the Association of Debt Collection Officials in canton Zurich. “Most of our 57 debt collection agencies have already had dealings with such people.”

Thomas Winkler adds that State objectors “are very happy to lodge complaints”. “Of course, these are unfounded”, he says, but it also takes up a lot of civil servants’ time.

According to Baier, since the Covid-19 pandemic, people who share the ideas of state objectors have strengthened their networking through discussion groups and workshops.

In French-speaking Switzerland, the phenomenon is less visible. However, some debt collection offices in canton Vaud have already been confronted with such practices.

Source : SWI