Moderates stall rise of Swiss nationalists

Last Updated: Monday, October 24, 2011 - 20:44

Bern: Swiss voters backed
moderate forces in their general election in which
nationalists failed in their effort to break through the 30
per cent barrier with a campaign heavy on anti-immigrant
sentiment.

The nationalist Swiss People`s Party, or SVP, was
projected to take 25.9 per cent of the vote for the lower
house, a drop of 3 per cent from four years ago, according to
public television station SF`s latest projections today.

On the left, the Greens also sustained a surprising
setback, taking 7.9 per cent of the vote, a drop of 1.7 per
cent from four years ago. The SVP and Greens were each
projected to lose seven seats in Switzerland`s lower chamber,
the 200-seat National Council.

"We didn`t achieve our election goal," People`s Party
president Toni Brunner conceded as results from yesterday`s
voting trickled in.

His party diminishment reverses 20 years of steady growth
in parliamentary elections that are held every four years. It
drew 11 per cent of the vote in 1987, but captured as much as
28.9 per cent in 2007.

During that time, support had eroded for two major
center-right parties, the Free Democratic Party and Christian
Democratic People`s Party, from a combined 42.5 per cent in
1987 down to 30.3 per cent in 2007.

Now, two of the SVP`s small centrist competitors are
rebounding at its expense.

The SVP`s rise was stalled by the Conservative Democratic
Party whose members split from the SVP in 2007, and the
centrist Green Liberal Party, which picks up 9 seats in the
National Council successfully riding a wave of anti-nuclear
sentiment following the disaster at Japan`s Fukushima plant in
March.

Both those centrist parties are expected to receive more
than 5 per cent of the vote for the National Council. Voters
are also deciding on 45 of 46 seats for the upper house, or
Council of States.

Barely one of every two eligible Swiss voters typically
exercise their privilege. Estimated turnout for yesterday`s
general election remained virtually unchanged at 48.9 per
cent, slightly up from 48.2 per cent in 2007.

The panoply of political parties in Switzerland makes for
intense haggling after every election, however, as each group
demands fair representation in the country`s cross-party
government.

PTI



First Published: Monday, October 24, 2011 - 20:44

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