• Switzerland;
  • national identity;
  • members of parliament;
  • constitutional patriotism;
  • survey data

Abstract: Proponents of constitutional patriotism advocate the promotion of a political national identity. Whether a national identity founded on common political values is viable, however, remains a matter of dispute. The Swiss nation is one of the few empirical cases cited by those who argue that a political national identity can be a sufficient guarantor of institutional stability and social coherence; indeed, Switzerland is widely regarded as a prototype of the political nation. The aim of our analysis is to empirically test this claim. In doing so, we rely on classical typologies of national identity. We propose to use a more finely graded typology than the usual dichotomies, however – one which allows for combined types – and to focus on individual perceptions of national identity at the mass- and elite-levels. The empirical analysis of whether the Swiss nation can correctly be classified as a political nation draws on data from mass and MP surveys. Our conclusion is that the Swiss imagine their nation in both political and cultural terms, and the essence of their cultural identity is Swiss linguistic pluralism and regional diversity.