Mon, Oct 21, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Green parties expected to gain ground in Switzerland’s national elections

AFP, GENEVA, Switzerland

Switzerland held national elections yesterday in a vote that could see unprecedented gains for parties demanding bold climate action and a possible slip for the anti-immigrant right-wing.

Opinion polls point to a “green wave” during the vote, the Sotomo political research institute said, possibly ushering in one of the most significant shifts in recent Swiss political history.

The Swiss People’s Party (SVP), which has repeatedly been accused of demonizing migrants, is likely to remain the largest parliamentary party, with opinion polls giving it more than 27 percent support in the wealthy Alpine nation.

However, that is down from the 29 percent the SVP garnered in 2015, and multiple surveys have shown that climate change has displaced migration as the top priority among the Swiss electorate.

The Green Party, which won just over 7 percent in 2015, is now backed by nearly 11 percent of voters, a poll released this month by public broadcaster RTS found.

Meanwhile, the Green Liberals — an environmentalist party with libertarian socio-economic policies — has also seen its fortunes rise, with the RTS poll giving it more than 7 percent support, compared to less than 5 percent four years ago.

Even if the Greens do not manage to secure a Cabinet seat, the parties currently in government have pledged to do more to combat climate change, except for the SVP which has denounced “climate hysteria” in Swiss politics.

If the environmentalist parties match or outperform their poll numbers, they could, through an alliance, force their way into the executive branch for the first time.

Under Switzerland’s unique political system, the election will decide the 200 lower house lawmakers and 46 senators elected to four-year terms, but the make-up of the executive Federal Council will not be decided until Dec. 11.

The country’s so-called “magic formula” sees the council’s seven Cabinet positions divided among the four leading parties.

Six seats are now shared equally between the SVP, the Socialist Party and the right-leaning Free Democratic Party, with the Christian Democrats holding the seventh seat.

Analysts have questioned whether an environmental alliance could crack the Cabinet, the leftwing Greens and the libertarian Green Liberals could agree on a unity candidate.

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