Some of those pictures are scary! They don't improve my opinion of European electrics
Well, I'm sure the general standard is roughly the same in all civilised countries and you could find similar scary examples anywhere in the UK. In Switzerland they're uncovered more frequently than elsewhere because homeowners are required to have their wiring tested every ten years.
Never heard of this. How does it work?
Do you mean how it's done technically or how well it works?
The testing is done by various licensed testing companies such as this one (Waser) and there's a national agency (Starkstrominspektorat) that can do spot checks or step in if someone complains.
The testers can't enforce anything, unlike the Starkstrominspektorat and therefore some violations are just noted every ten years. The Swiss aren't all saints either
The STarkstrominspektorat can turn off your power in case of imminent danger and I think they can fine too.http://www.esti.admin.ch/en/