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Extreme Right-Wing National Party Make Advances in Swiss Elections

Extreme Right-Wing National Party Make Advances in Swiss Elections

Posted October. 20, 2003 22:43,   


The results of the census conducted on October 19 have shown that the extreme right-wing nationalist People’s Party (SVP) will most likely hold the majority of seats in the Swiss Parliament.

There have been cases of such right-wing extremists participating in the parliament of a European country after World War II, but this is the first time that a party of this nature is likely to win the majority of the seats, making it probable for other nations to follow.

Anti-foreigner sentiments are at the core: According to the results of the census conducted by the Swiss press, it is estimated that the nationalist People’s Party will hold 55 seats out of the 200 seats available in the Lower Chamber; 11 more seats than they have ever had in the past.

The mid-leftist Social Democratic Party (SP) will hold 54 seats, three more than the last elections. T he leftist Radical Party (FDP) lost six seats and ended up with a total of 37 seats, and the mid-rightist Christian Democratic Party (CVP) lost nine seats, ending up with a total of 26 seats.

The People’s Party boasted the results as a “historical victory” and proposed the addition of seven more ministerial positions. Moreover, they stated that in the case that their proposition is rejected, they will resign from parliament.

The Swiss form of government has always been famous for its division of power in parliament and the cabinet between the four political parties mentioned above ever since 1959. However, after the People’s Party’s proposition, it is likely that this tradition will be broken. Currently, the People’s Party has only one ministerial position within their power.

The sudden affection the People’s Party is presently enjoying can be traced to the current state of Switzerland, where unemployment rates are soaring between 3.6 percent and 4 percent. Recently, Swiss nationals have been known to have shown a lot of resentment because of the increasing number of foreign immigrants, and the People’s Party’s anti-foreigner campaign met their demands.

There is one foreigner out of every five people in Switzerland today. Most foreigners work in lower-class jobs, but the common understanding of the Swiss nationals is that they are being invaded by foreigners and losing their jobs to them. In a census conducted this August, results showed that 44 percent of the population agreed to a policy that would limit the number of immigrants living in Switzerland to 10 percent of the entire population.

The People’s Party took advantage of the situation by conducting an anti-foreigner campaign. One of their campaign ads depicted a foreign immigrant as a criminal. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) publicly denounced this commercial.

The People’s Party is rejecting Switzerland’s entrance to the European Union (EU), claiming that if the labor market in Switzerland is opened, then foreigners will invade Swiss workplaces.

Will Europe be swiped by extreme rightist movements?: There are speculations that the People’s Party’s victory in Switzerland will start a new age of extreme rightist in Western Europe.

In last April’s French presidential election, the extreme rightist People’s Front Party came in second place, weakening the Socialist Party’s relatively absolute power. In the parliamentary elections of the Netherlands last May, the extreme rightist List Party came into power as the second majority party. Many people speculate that this is only the beginning of an extreme rightist movement that will soon expand throughout Europe.

Although not extreme rightists, out of the 15 member nations of the EU that were under a leftist government in 1997, 11 have been turned rightist.

Specialists point out that rightist parties have linked the rises in crime and unemployment, the slowdown of the economy, and the decrease of social welfare in European nations as effects of the rise in number of immigrants.

When mid-leftist Gerhard Schroeder won the reelection of the German election last September and when Austria’s extreme rightist Liberal party lost in a landslide last November, it was thought that this rightist movement was coming to a close. However, after the Swiss People’s Party’s victory, analysts claim that this may be a sign of a reincarnation of a rightist Europe.