Policy Change and Policy Stasis: Comparing Swiss Foreign Policy toward South Africa (1968-94) and Iraq (1990-91)
Hirschi, Christian, Widmer, Thomas, Policy Studies Journal
This article investigates how concepts from the field of public policy, in particular the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) initially introduced by Sabatier and Jenkins-Smith (1988), can be applied to the study of foreign policy analysis. Over the last decades, public policy scholars have developed a wide array of approaches and theories on how policy change and the behavior of policymakers can be explained and have demonstrated in a large set of qualitative case studies and quantitative comparative analyses the empirical relevance of those theories. Much to our surprise, however, public policy scholars have neglected the field of foreign policy to a large extent as an area of application and testing for their concepts and approaches.
The ACF (recent assessments of the framework are Sabatier & Weible, 2007; Weible, Sabatier, & McQueen, 2009), as a widely used framework of policy processes with a time perspective of a decade or more, is hardly an exception. Since the late 1980s, the framework has been tested in possibly over one hundred case studies; some of them have led to significant revisions of the framework (such as the adaption of the framework to a non-U.S. political context). Whereas early versions of the framework were clearly rooted in Sabatier's experience with the implementation literature (e.g., Mazmanian & Sabatier, 1983) and the interest of both Sabatier and Jenkins-Smith in the role of technical information in political processes on the environment (Sabatier & Jenkins-Smith, 1988), more recent ACF case studies include highly diverse policy fields such as smoking control in Japan (Sato, 1999), drug policy in Switzerland (Kubler, 2001) and nuclear energy policy in Sweden (Nohrstedt, 2008). The ACF has attracted little attention among foreign policy scholars thus far. The few exceptions include two applications of the framework to international climate change policy (Liftin, 2000; Sewell, 2005) and a study on the role of the National Economic Council in the United States at the intersection of domestic and international politics (Dolan, 2003).
In this paper, we apply the ACF to explain stability and change of foreign policymaking in Switzerland toward South Africa under apartheid (until 1994) and toward Iraq during the years 1990 and 1991 after Saddam Hussein's regime invaded Kuwait. In both cases, the violation of fundamental international law by the governments of the two respective countries put these foreign policy issues high on the international political agenda. Both issues had also posed a big challenge for Swiss foreign policy. In the case of South Africa under apartheid, Swiss business circles and the government were repeatedly accused of taking an uncritical position toward the apartheid government and giving the racist regime in South Africa a kid-glove treatment. In the case of Iraq under Saddam Hussein, the traditional concept of Swiss neutrality in international disputes came under considerable strain when the international community of states almost unanimously condemned the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Specifically, the research questions addressed in this paper read as follows: Why was a significant change in Swiss foreign policy on international sanctions possible in the case of Iraq in 1990 but not in the case of South Africa in the late 1980s and early 1990s? What are the similarities and differences between the two cases? What factors explain why Swiss foreign policy on international sanctions changed in the case of Iraq in 1990/91 but not in the case of South Africa until 1994?
As we will show, the ACF helps to understand why Switzerland reacted very differently to the two major foreign policy challenges in the cases of South Africa and Iraq. Toward South Africa's apartheid regime, Switzerland did not fundamentally change its foreign policy principles until the formal end of apartheid in April 1994, even though almost every other government had meanwhile imposed sanctions against the apartheid regime. On the other hand, toward Saddam's regime in Iraq, the Swiss government joined in the sharp international criticism of the violent act of the invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. Moreover, the reaction of the Swiss government to this dramatic international development resulted in the abandonment of Switzerland's traditional position of strict noninterference in international political affairs, and the country undertook--for the first time--substantial economic sanctions under the framework of the United Nations (UN) against Iraq and Kuwait. In the case of South Africa, a broad and well-established advocacy coalition "against sanctions" remained stable and dominant despite changing international circumstances and increasing pressure from proponents of the promotion of human rights and international solidarity that had organized into a minority "coalition for sanctions." On the other hand, in the case of Iraq at the beginning of the 1990s, the absence of such specific policy subsystem characteristics made a radical change in Swiss foreign policy possible.
To make our argument, we first outline the fundaments of Swiss foreign policy and the country's traditional position on international sanctions. Then, we discuss how the ACF is beneficial to understanding the beliefs and convictions that underlie the country's conceptualization of its foreign policy. Next, we sketch our empirical method as well as justify the cross-sectional perspective employed by comparing the South African to the Iraqi case. On these foundations, we then describe and explain the overall stability in Switzerland's foreign policy toward South Africa from 1968 to 1994 and the abrupt changes in the case of Iraq in 1990/91. Finally, we discuss the benefits and shortcomings of the ACF as a conceptual framework for the analysis of foreign policy.
The Fundaments of Swiss Foreign Policy
Swiss foreign policy during the Cold War was mainly based on two pillars: a rather isolationistic foreign policy based on neutrality and noninterference in world politics, and a liberal foreign trade policy that resulted in one of the world's most internationalized economies (Gabriel, 2003; Goetschel, Bernath, & Schwarz, 2005, pp. 14-17). Neutrality has been a dominant concept in Switzerland's foreign policy since the seventeenth century. Initially introduced as a subtle instrument to secure the country's sovereignty and trans-border trade in times of war between neighboring states, neutrality obtained a stronger ideological component during and after World War II and became an integral part of Swiss national identity. Economic integration, as opposed to political integration, became a central characteristic for Swiss foreign affairs after World War II. Spared mostly from the war's destruction, Switzerland emerged with an intact economy and intensified rapidly trade and business relations with Western Europe and the rest of the world. Switzerland had thus turned into a highly internationalized country (Katzenstein, 1985; Sciarini & Nicolet, 2005) and has continuously been ranked among the most globalized countries (e.g., in the KOF Index of Globalization, available from 1970, see Dreher, Gaston, & Martens, 2008; Hirschi, Serdult, & Widmer, 1999). It also strived for memberships in economically oriented international organizations long before becoming a full member of the UN in 2002 (Goetschel et al., 2005, pp. 68-77; Senti, 2003).
In Swiss domestic politics, foreign policy has been a rather unspectacular issue without major controversy for decades (Kloti, Hirschi, Serdult, & Widmer, 2005). As in almost every nation-state, Swiss foreign policymaking has mainly remained in the hands of the federal government and relied heavily on the executive branch of the national government. The absence of powerful formal institutional constraints (compared with domestic political realms) has also made Swiss foreign policy prone to informal influence from powerful societal (economic) circles (George, 1980; Janis & Mann, 1977). However, a government project to join the UN led in the 1980s to a politicization of Swiss foreign policy that shaped domestic politics on foreign policy issues until the mid-1990s. Although supported by the government, three of the four governing coalition parties, and a majority of the parliament, the government proposal for a Swiss entry into the UN overwhelmingly failed in a popular referendum in March 1986 (Linder, 1998, pp. 60-62).
This debate over the 1986 UN referendum shifted the main conflict lines in Swiss foreign policy: A national-conservative movement led by Christoph Blocher (member of Parliament for the Swiss People's Party) superseded the Social Democrats as the main oppositional force against official Swiss foreign policy in parliament. A governmental project of joining the European Economic Area failed in 1992 in a hard-fought referendum mainly because of a strong national-conservative opposition. A full entry into the UN was approved by the Swiss people not before 2002.
The referendums on European integration and joining the UN are seen today as cornerstones in Swiss foreign policy and reveal that Switzerland's semidirect political system became a crucial factor in foreign policymaking as well (Kriesi & Trechsel, 2008, pp. 172-86; Mockli, 2003, pp. 57-58). However, this popularization and politicization of Swiss foreign policy translated only marginally into Swiss-South African relations during the 1980s. Even though the Swiss Anti-Apartheid Movement mobilized publicly quite effectively against the official South Africa policy of the Swiss government, the protests met with only little response in the federal parliament and the Federal Council (the executive branch of the Swiss government). In the case of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the situation was fundamentally different. As we will demonstrate in the following sections, the ACF provides a useful approach for understanding these policy processes in the two distinct cases.
Analytical Framework and Hypotheses
The ACF has emerged over the last two decades as a rather general framework for describing and analyzing policy processes with a time perspective of a decade or more. It understands the policy process as a competition between coalitions of actors who advocate specific beliefs about policy problems and solutions. This competition takes place within a policy subsystem that is defined as a set of representatives from public and private organizations who are actively concerned with a policy problem or issue and who regularly seek to influence public policy in that domain (Sabatier & Jenkins-Smith, 1999, p. 119; Sabatier & Weible, 2007, p. 192).
In the following, we will use the ACF to study how the main coalitions in Swiss foreign policy responded to international challenges in the two cases of South Africa (until 1994) and Iraq (1990/91) and how the decision making has started to change after the end of the ColdWar in the early 1990s. We see potential in applying the ACF to these two cases of foreign policymaking because the framework has its strengths in the analysis of contentious and polarizing issues where ideological orientations and beliefs of the contenting political actors are important in understanding the policy process. This emphasis of value priorities and perceptions of world states is an important feature of many foreign policy issues. In addition, many foreign policies remain rather stable over longer time periods, and one often has to study periods of a decade or more to understand foreign policy changes, as the ACF suggests.
The ACF would argue that coalitions and alliances in Swiss foreign policy are mainly based on shared beliefs and values (mainly their policy beliefs). These coalitions, based on similar political perspectives and coordinated actions among coalition members, will help political actors to promote their interests and maximize their influence on political decision making on the relevant policy issues (Sabatier & Jenkins-Smith, 1993, 1999). Several applications of the ACF have proven that such a focus on coalitions that jointly advocate specific policy beliefs may explain how political interests are formed and take influence in policymaking beyond formal authority structures (Dolan, 2003; Ellison, 1998; Sato, 1999).
Switzerland's relations toward South Africa represent a specific subsystem in Swiss foreign policy as it can be defined in ACF terms. The policy was the topic of an in-depth debate in the Swiss political arena, even though Switzerland's South Africa policy is (also) an issue in conventional policy domains such as foreign policy, trade policy, international financial policy, or development cooperation. Several specific characteristics, however, turn Swiss-South African relations into a distinct (and therefore individual) policy subsystem: Hardly any other foreign policy topic has been raised as often in the Swiss Parliament since 1945 and was more frequently in the media than Switzerland's relations with South Africa under apartheid; South Africa has always been the Swiss economy's most important market in Africa; various interest groups and organizations (most prominently, the Swiss Anti-Apartheid Movement and the business-friendly Swiss South African Association and Working Group on Southern Africa) have mobilized and organized explicitly on the issue of South Africa under apartheid and addressed various links between the two countries; special governmental subunits have also been dealing in particular with South Africa and related Swiss policy issues (such as an interdepartmental working group on Swiss-South African relations and several administrative subunits in the federal administration that dealt specifically with South Africa). During the 1970s, the South Africa policy subsystem in Swiss foreign policy developed into a "mature policy subsystem" (Sabatier & Jenkins-Smith, 1999, pp. 135-36).
In the case of Swiss foreign policy toward Iraq, however, a similar country specific policy subsystem in ACF terms cannot be identified. Switzerland does not have a similar history of significant political and economic ties to this particular country. Regarding the country's position on international sanctions, the Swiss policy was traditionally not based on a case-by-case assessment but on a principle decision that Switzerland does not impose sanctions against another state or group of states. Swiss sanction policy, however, as it emerged during the early 1990s with the imposing of economic sanctions against Iraq and Kuwait in 1990, has developed into an individual policy subsystem today. This particular policy subsystem dealing with international sanctions has been established over the last nearly two decades after the paradigmatic policy change in Swiss sanction policy in 1990. But this development can be clearly separated from the South Africa policy subsystem.
According to the ACF, a policy subsystem is typically dominated by an advocacy coalition incorporating people from various private and public organizations who both (i) share a set of normative and causal beliefs, especially policy core beliefs; and (ii) engage in a nontrivial degree of coordinated activity. Advocacy coalitions not only compound legislators and interest group leaders but may also contain administrative agency officials, researchers, or journalists. It is one of the ACF's most innovative features to think of such actors from civil society as political actors with policy beliefs sometimes very similar to those of interest group leaders and their legislative allies. The ACF understands the policy process mainly as a competition between such advocacy coalitions that advocate specific beliefs about policy problems and solutions. As a consequence, public policies and programs, too, contain explicit or implicit theories about how to achieve policy objectives and can consequently be conceptualized in much the same way as belief systems of political actors.
Policy change is seen as a transformation of a hegemonic belief system within a policy subsystem. Originally, the ACF explained major policy change (following changes in policy core beliefs) mainly by focusing on changing power relations between advocacy coalitions or the role of shocks external to a policy subsystem as necessary (but not sufficient) condition for change (Sabatier & Jenkins-Smith, 1988, 1999, pp. 124-25, 147). In the most recent revision of the framework, Sabatier and Weible (2007, pp. 204-7) have added "internal shocks" (e.g., disasters from within policy subsystems) and "negotiated agreements" between competing coalitions as alternative paths to explain major policy changes in policy subsystems. In a foreign policy context--in this respect not fundamentally different from domestic political realms--all these potentially critical paths are applicable in explaining major policy changes. Where as potential alterations in foreign policy orientations due to a replacement of one dominant coalition by another seem obvious (e.g., after a general election), the role of external and internal shocks needs closer consideration.
External shocks originating outside the policy subsystem open opportunities for a major policy change. But the ACF's policy change hypothesis is that a policy will not change until proponents of such a change skillfully utilize this opportunity in favor of their policy core beliefs (Sabatier & Jenkins-Smith, 1999, p. 148). Consequently, external perturbations are a necessary but not sufficient condition for policy change within a subsystem. Different types of possible external perturbations in Swiss foreign policy toward South Africa and Iraq to be considered here include occurrences in the international political system (conflicts, policy changes), decisions within international organizations (most notably within UN bodies), changes in other countries' international behavior (policy adjustments following a change of government, single policy decisions or positions), but also fundamental decisions and changes in other Swiss policy subsystems directly or indirectly connected to particular Swiss foreign affairs, such as foreign policy, economic, financial, or cultural issues.
Whereas external shocks may redistribute resources or open or close venues within policy subsystems (because of a shift in political agendas, public opinion, or the attention of key decision makers as a result of events external to the policy subsystem), internal shocks have their origin within the subsystem. They could be the result of monumental failures of the policies and behaviors of the dominant advocacy coalition or significant changes in minority coalitions to mobilize for their own causes. Internal shocks may confirm policy core beliefs in the minority advocacy coalition(s) and increase doubt within the dominant coalition (Sabatier & Weible, 2007, p. 205). This recent distinction between internal and external shocks as different causes for policy change is a valuable specification of the ACF because it now acknowledges that major internal perturbations (e.g., because of failed policies of the dominant coalition) can also lead to major policy changes.
Negotiated agreements present another alternative path to major policy change. Sabatier and Weible (2007, pp. 205-7) have struck this new path by combining the ACF's concept of policy-oriented learning across coalitions with the literature on alternative dispute resolution. The concept of "hurting stalemate" (Zartman, 1991) in particular, as an incentive for serious negotiation between coalitions, can be applied to many foreign policy decision-making situations (the concept has actually been borrowed from international conflict resolution literature). Especially in situations where all coalitions see a continuation of the status quo as unacceptable, the dominant coalition could be willing to adjust its policies by including policy beliefs of the minority coalition(s) into its policies. However, such policy adjustments would rather result in minor policy changes (following changes in secondary aspects of belief systems), similar to those often observed as a result of policy-oriented learning (compare, Sabatier & Weible, p. 198).
In sum, the latest ACF iterations have further specified different forms of perturbations affecting policy subsystems as well as the necessary coalition opportunity structures within a policy subsystem to explain major policy changes. In the following, we will test the effect of significant perturbations external to the policy subsystem in the form of changing international political parameters on Swiss foreign policy toward South Africa and Iraq, given the structure of the relevant policy subsystem. More specifically, we will test the following two hypotheses:
Hypothesis 1: The policy core attributes of a foreign policy will not be significantly revised as long as the dominant subsystem advocacy coalition that instituted the program remains in power. Hypothesis 2: The policy core attributes of a foreign policy are unlikely to be changed in the absence of significant perturbations external to the subsystem unless proponents of such a change skillfully utilize this opportunity in favor of their policy core beliefs.
As a result of Hypothesis 1, we assume Swiss foreign policy in the cases of South Africa and Iraq to have not fundamentally changed (in terms of major policy change) as long as no significant alteration in relations between the relevant advocacy coalitions occurs. Adjustments to the existing policy (in terms of minor policy change) might, however, be observed if the dominant coalition is forced to make concessions to the minority coalition because of temporary political weakness. However, as Hypothesis 2 suggests, external shocks originating outside the relevant foreign policy subsystem open opportunities for a major policy change. But the policy will not change until proponents of such a policy change use the open "window of opportunity" (Kingdon, 1995, pp. 165-95) and force political activities leading eventually to a major revision of core elements of the relevant policy.
Research Design and Methods
We use a comparative case study design (Eckstein, 1975; George & Bennett, 2005; King, Keohane, & Verba, 1994, pp. 43-46; Yin, 2009) that allows us to analyze Switzerland's foreign policy toward South Africa from the late 1960 to the mid-1990s and compare it systematically with the policy toward Iraq in 1990/91. Each policy will be reconstructed by analyzing specific policy positions taken by the Swiss government regarding its relations to South Africa and Iraq, respectively (Table 1). Following a "most similar" strategy (Meckstroth, 1975; Przeworski & Teune, 1970), the selected policy positions all deal essentially with the question of economic sanctions under given economic and political circumstances and include either a landmark decision on the matter or a confirmation of the previous position taken by the federal government. All the selected policy positions also include a general assessment of Swiss foreign policy toward South Africa and Iraq and its main rationales during that time.
Table 1. Selected Policy Positions for the Case Studies
1. Declaration of the Swiss delegation on apartheid at the International Conference on Human Rights in Teheran, May 2, 1968
2. Declaration of the Swiss delegation on apartheid at the World Conference for Action against Apartheid, August 25, 1977
3. Declaration of the Federal Council on Switzerland's relations to South Africa, September 22, 1986
4. Written statement of the Federal Council in answer to the parliamentary question of National Councillor Rechsteiner on economic sanctions (87.918), October 9, 1987
5. Written statement of the Federal Council in answer to the parliamentary question of National Councillor Rechsteiner on economic sanctions (89.685), October 6, 1989
6. Written statement of the Federal Council to questions about the sale of PC-7 type aircraft posed by National Councillors Rechsteiner, Spielmann, and Bar, December 7, 1992
7. Written statement of the Federal Council to questions about the sale of PC-7 type aircraft posed by National Councillors Spielmann (92.1147), and Rechsteiner (92.1155 and 93.3058), March 24, 1993
8. Regulation on economic measures taken against the Republic of Iraq and Kuwait (SR 946.206.1), August 7, 1990
The comparison of Swiss foreign policy toward Iraq in 1990/91 allows the assessment of policy changes in Swiss-South African relations not only in terms of the variance of the policy over time but also in comparison with the policy toward a contrast case of similar international concern during a critical period of time. Both South Africa under apartheid and Iraq under Saddam Hussein's regime had repeatedly been criticized for severe human rights violations. And both cases were subject to a domestic and international debate on the application of international sanctions to enforce the target government to change its policies. But the comparison of the South African with the Iraqi case in Swiss foreign policy is not only interesting in itself but also necessary for analytical reasons to understand the resistance to change in the Swiss foreign policy toward South Africa. Without the Iraqi contrast case, we would observe in Switzerland's relations toward South Africa mainly stability, negative feedback processes, or an equilibrium (Baumgartner & Jones, 2002, pp. 8-13).
Empirically, the reconstruction of the two cases under investigation draws on two qualitative analytic techniques: the systematic analysis of documents and guideline-based interviews (Hill, 1993; Hodder, 1994; Kvale & Brinkmann, 2009). The document analysis included a systematic inquiry into governmental and nongovernmental written sources (see Methodological Appendix). In addition, we conducted 22 in-depth interviews with civil servants, members of parliament, NGO representatives, researchers, and journalists to complement our empirical data with information that had not necessarily been displayed by written documents. The interviews were guideline based. We asked the interviewees first for a general assessment of the relevant situation in South Africa and Iraq, and the guiding principles of Swiss foreign policy and foreign trade policy (such as neutrality, universality, humanitarian tradition). Then, we addressed more specific questions on the reasons for specific Swiss foreign policies and potential alternative options and instruments (see interview guideline in the Methodological Appendix).
We then systematized the extensive archival material and the interview transcripts with Mayring's (2003, in particular pp. 82-85) concept of qualitative content analysis. Starting with Sabatier's (1998, pp. 112-13) systematization of belief systems, we translated the defining criteria for the relevant individual beliefs into specific policy questions and issues as they had been discussed in Swiss foreign policymaking on the matter of economic sanctions against so-called "problem regimes" (Haass & O'Sullivan, 2000, p. 2) such as South Africa under apartheid or Saddam's regime in Iraq (Table 2). By comparing the theoretically deducted policy questions and beliefs with the argumentation line of the interviewees and the arguments brought forward in written policy statements, we reconstructed every actor's policy position as a policy belief system. To be able to structure actor beliefs best possible according to the self-perception of the respective actors, we also asked the interviewees about their political priorities and their assessment of the importance of certain policy positions and aspects. This way, we were able to define whether a belief such as "neutrality" belongs rather to an actor's core beliefs or is rather secondary. Actors who shared similar belief system structures (particularly in the policy core) and who indicated in the interviews that they interacted with each other on a regular basis during the investigated policy processes in the selected case studies could then be aggregated to advocacy coalitions (see Methodological Appendix for applied coding technique).
Table 2. Operationalization of Belief Systems Component Case-Specific Policy Questions and Issues Policy core Orientation on basic value Switzerland's international priorities position: pro/contra international integration Human rights violations: primarily inner-state or inter-/supranational issue Identification of groups or Addressees/target groups of other entities whose foreign policy: welfare is of greatest international responsibility concern versus national interests Overall seriousness of the Estimation of the effects of problem the so-called "problem regimes, domestically and internationally Estimation of the need for action against so-called "problem regimes" Basic causes of the problem Explanations for the existence of "problem regime" estimation of different political, economic, and social processes Connections of the problem to Switzerland: political, economic, and social relevance Proper distribution of Responsibility of the state authority between government versus economic freedom at and market the national and economic level Proper distribution of Enforcement of international authority among levels of norms versus sovereignty of government the nation-state Priority accorded various Fundamental position on policy instruments different foreign policy measures such as economic sanctions, conflict mediation, dialog, incentives, and rewards (no specific questions and issues) Method of financing Ability Optimistic versus of society to solve the pessimistic view on problem overcoming "problem regimes" Participation of public Trust in international versus experts versus organizations, attitude elected officials toward public protests, international officials and experts Secondary Seriousness of specific Estimation of the need for aspects aspects of the problem in action on specific issues specific locales such as arms export, capital flows, foreign trade, direct investments, etc. Importance of various causal Estimation of different linkages in different (potential) connections locales and over time between international politics, events in the particular countries, policies of third states, and interlinkages between Swiss domestic and foreign policies Most decisions concerning Procedural questions administrative rules Implementation questions Information regarding Information on the effect of performance of specific different existing and programs or institutions possible international programs, measures, and instruments
Stability and Change in Swiss Foreign Policy
Based on our analysis of the belief system structure of the selected policy positions, Switzerland's South Africa policy can be described as having two core policy elements: (i) the condemnation of apartheid in moral terms as a violation of fundamental human rights; and (ii) the refusal to employ economic sanctions as a political instrument. The specific policy core beliefs that were manifested were based on four more general principles: (i) the respect for fundamental human rights; (ii) the country's democratic tradition and humanitarian self-conception in foreign aid; (iii) a liberal understanding of foreign trade policy that involved a minimally invasive state; and (iv) accentuating the universality of Swiss foreign relations. These four general principles built the foundation for the specific policy core beliefs identified in the selected policy positions.
The policy of "moral condemnation" was based on a declaration at the International Conference on Human Rights, held in Teheran in 1968 (the first selected policy position; see Swiss Delegation to the International Conference on Human Rights, 1968). The head of the Swiss delegation, Ambassador August R. Lindt, criticized the apartheid system at the time as a deliberate, continuing violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, stating that Swiss authorities could not help but condemn the system in moral terms, given Switzerland's democratic and humanitarian tradition. Ambassador Lindt's Teheran declaration was new in a sense that Swiss government officials had not openly accused the apartheid system of flouting fundamental human rights up to this date. Instead, the Swiss government had only condemned human rights violations in general. In subsequent years, the Teheran declaration became the touchstone for a number of similar declarations at international conferences, including at the 1977 UN World Conference against Apartheid (the second selected policy position; see Swiss Delegation to the World Conference against Apartheid, 1977). The Swiss Federal Council also referred several times to this declaration in explaining its policy, for example in answering parliamentary motions in the Swiss Parliament in the 1970s and 1980s (see selected policy positions 3-7, Swiss Federal Council, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1992, 1993b).
Although the policy of morally condemning apartheid during the 1970s was still in accord with that of other Western governments (the Swiss government orientated itself most of all to the official policy positions of the United States, Britain, and West Germany), by the 1980s, differences emerged over the question of imposing economic sanctions against the apartheid regime. Even at the height of international sanctions against the South African regime (1985-89), the Swiss government still disapproved of imposing economic sanctions. True, much of the sanctions debate both in Switzerland and in other Western nations centered on the question of whether economic pressure was an effective means of eliminating apartheid. But unlike most countries, Switzerland adopted quite a consistent (or dogmatic, depending on your point of view) stand, arguing
1. that it was Switzerland's longstanding practice not to participate in sanctions imposed by single countries or groups of countries;
2. that sanctions were an inappropriate means of changing a political situation; and
3. that sanctions are ineffective, and if they are effective, they affect the wrong addressees (including neighbor states or economically weak segments of the population).
In a public statement issued on September 22, 1986, the Federal Council cited this rationale explicitly in explaining its policy toward South Africa (Swiss Federal Council, 1986). The Swiss government also initiated a program of "positive measures" that subsequently became part of the policy core, at least in the Department of Foreign Affairs. Various UN bodies, however, protested the Swiss refusal to use economic sanctions. Their protests reached a head in the early 1990s when the Swiss government permitted 60 aircraft of the Pilatus PC-7 type to be exported to the South African Ministry of Defense. The UN Security Council's Special Committee on Sanctions accused Switzerland of thereby violating the UN arms embargo against South Africa (Swiss Mission to the United Nations, 1993).
Overall, Swiss foreign policy toward South Africa in the apartheid era was dominated by a high degree of continuity and considerable stability. The core of the policy, the policy of "moral condemnation," went through the whole era under investigation whereas the position toward economic sanctions changed marginally. In the earlier period, Switzerland refused to take a position at all; in the 1980s and 1990s, it refused to employ economic sanctions as a political means. Although the rhetoric was slightly different, Switzerland did not, in fact, impose economic sanctions against the apartheid regime until the regime's official end in 1994.
Let us turn now to the relevant coalitions responsible for this significant policy stability: Swiss South Africa policy was mainly shaped by a broad majority coalition consisting of political parties from the center and the right wing (i.e., Christian Democrats, Liberals, Conservatives, and smaller right-wing parties), employers and trade associations as well as interest groups with a conservative or liberal orientation who took a reserved stand vis-a-vis restrictive measures against the apartheid system, opposing only on moral terms. On the other side, there was the minority coalition of parties from the political left (Social Democrats, Communists, and Progressives), trade unions, and clerical as well as human rights and peace organizations. Members of the minority coalition demanded more regulation for international trade relations and more consideration of solidarity in Swiss foreign policy, in particular toward the international community and the Third World. Political and economic relations with South Africa were seen as siding with the apartheid regime and the lack of participation in the international protest movement a violation of the international boycott against white South Africa. The struggle against apartheid had become an important topic for the members of this minority coalition in Switzerland. The Swiss antiapartheid organizations were institutionally and personally strongly linked with each other because of their shared history and origins. Interconnections to political parties, most of all to the Social Democrats, were at the personal level, in that representatives of antiapartheid organizations often were members of parliament at the communal, cantonal, or federal level. The minority coalition was supported through regularly published reports in the left-wing media, whereas the center and right-wing media rarely discussed the issue.
However, our investigation of the selected policy positions shows that these two main coalitions in Swiss South Africa policy had not been directly involved in the formulation of the Swiss government's position toward apartheid, at least not until the mid-1970s, but represented more the ideological background of the two main fundamental positions shaping the policy. As the first case study on the Swiss stance on apartheid at the 1968 Teheran conference reveals, the Swiss position was actually formulated during the UN human rights conference in Teheran--under the lead of the head of the Swiss delegation (Ambassador Lindt) and in coordination with the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, but without a prior decision of the Swiss government or of the parliament. Other key decisions in Swiss foreign policy had been taken by high-ranking senior officials from the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the Foreign Trade Division (later the Federal Office for Foreign Trade) in the Federal Department of Economic Affairs. During the 1980s, in both the Department of Foreign and Economic Affairs the respective secretary of state (which is the most senior official of the federal administration below the ministers) had great influence on the formulation of the Swiss South Africa policy.
Wider circles of the Swiss government and society became more alert on the situation in South Africa during the 1970s. But the predominant position mostly shaped by senior officials of the federal administration remained one of reservation, advocating only measures against the apartheid government if necessary to protect Swiss (economic) interests. Even in the mid-1980s when a chain of violence erupted over South Africa and the apartheid government steadily increased its repression of oppositional forces, the Swiss government persisted in its view that sanctions were not an appropriate measure "to change a given situation" (Swiss Federal Council, 1986). The federal government's position was widely supported in parliament and Swiss business circles. Where as members of this majority coalition (with some minor exceptions on the right wing) were not openly supportive of the apartheid regime, they referred to the principle of universality in Swiss foreign relations as soon as concrete measures were concerned. International activities by the Swiss government were only supported inasmuch as Swiss economic interests were challenged. Otherwise, the majority coalition stood for a cautious foreign policy that promoted free trade in as unlimited a fashion as possible. In this sense, the members of the majority coalition have regularly emphasized that this standpoint should not be interpreted as supporting apartheid. Instead, the stance has to be seen in line with Switzerland's traditional foreign orientation.
Organizational interconnections within the majority coalition were not as dense as they were on the opposition side. More important were the personal relations, especially within business circles and among the more politically committed groups and organizations. Thus, influential entrepreneurs were members of the board of the Swiss South African Association (such as the entrepreneurs Georg Sulzer and Dieter Buhrle) or the president of the Working Group on Southern Africa (entrepreneur and National Councilor Christoph Blocher). Apart from these groups with a clear standpoint and close personal connections, the broad majority coalition also included parties with moderate positions. But there was--although the underlying rationales were distinct--a shared consensus within this coalition that Switzerland should abstain from any restrictive measures against the South African regime.
At the level of specific actor belief systems, especially in the case of the rather heterogeneous "coalition against sanctions" in Swiss South Africa policy, it becomes apparent that a shared policy core does not require--as supposed by Sabatier and Jenkins-Smith (1999, pp. 121-22)--shared policy core beliefs. Moreover, behind the dominant coalition members' policy core belief of refusing economic sanctions, we identify different deep core beliefs rooted in different assumptions about human nature. An economic rationality-maximizing benefit stood behind the commercial arguments for free trade and self-regulation. The accentuation of the inefficacy of economic sanctions was based on a more realistic point of view and is distinguishable again from a dogmatic position insisting on universal principles in Swiss foreign policy (such as neutrality and universality). And on the extreme political right there was surely also sympathy for the apartheid system for racial reasons.
Contrast Case: Swiss Foreign Policy toward Iraq in 1990/91
What had seemed impossible in the case of South Africa occurred after Iraq's illegal annexation of Kuwait in August 1990: the Swiss government adopted UN economic sanctions against