Poll triumph for Swiss right wing


20 October 2003


"The fact that the Swiss have expressed such trust in the SVP means they want a change in policy." 

SVP leader Christoph Blocher wants a cabinet seat

Early results from Switzerland's parliamentary elections show that the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) has the biggest share of the vote.


Final exit polls from Swiss television indicate the party won more than 27% - even more than had been predicted.

The party, once the smallest of the four governing parties in the coalition, is now the largest.

Exit polls also indicated an unexpected decline in support for centre-right parties.

The SVP, which opposes Swiss membership of the European Union, is likely to win an extra 11 seats in the 200-seat House of Representatives.


The BBC's Imogen Foulkes in Bern says the party's anti-foreigner campaign, in which asylum seekers were portrayed as criminals and drug dealers, seems to have found favour with more voters than it offended.

Now the party will put forward Christoph Blocher, its most controversial and outspoken figure, for a second seat in the seven-member cabinet. That would disrupt the coalition which has governed Switzerland for almost 50 years.

The official results due on Monday are also expected to show strong levels of support for the Social Democrats (SDP) on the left.

Anti-foreign propaganda

"The SVP is winning voters in all cantons, about 1-8% more," election analyst Claude Longchamp told Swiss TV.

Mr Blocher, a billionaire industrialist, said the result "looks superb for Switzerland".

"The fact that the Swiss have expressed such trust in the SVP means they want a change in policy."

Switzerland's once strong economy is heading for a slump, unemployment is rising, and social benefits are being cut back.

The election campaign was dominated by the SVP's anti-foreigner propaganda, overshadowing concerns about the economy.

The party has doubled its share of the popular vote in the last 10 years.

Its campaign, including posters portraying asylum seekers as criminals, was sharply criticised by anti-racism groups.

Centre-right Liberal Party parliamentarian Barbara Polla said she had sensed that many elderly people felt more was being done to help immigrants than pensioners.

"I think there is a very large amount of work that needs to be done to reassure people, and to show that the presence of foreigners... is a positive factor, especially for the economy," she said.

The United Nations refugee agency also said the party's propaganda contained some of the most anti-asylum advertisements ever seen in Europe.


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© 2003 Adelaide Institute