Switzerland has been ranked fifth in a European study comparing support for populist parties and their influence.
The Swedish research think tank Timbro ranked Switzerland in the top five nations, behind behind Hungary, Greece, Poland and Italy, in its Authoritarian Populism Index 2016external link due to the presence of the conservative right Swiss People’s Party in the government and recent election results.
The People’s Party made large gains in the October 2015 parliamentary elections, increasing its share of the vote from 26.6% to 29.4%. The People’s Party are represented in the cabinet by two ministers – defence and finance.
“Switzerland and Austria are among the countries in which right-wing authoritarian parties established themselves the earliest,” writes report author Andreas Johansson Heinö.
The Swiss People’s Party had already been part of the federal government for years well before it began its new rightwing strategy.
In three countries – Malta, Montenegro and Iceland – there is no voter support for authoritarian parties.
On average, one in five voters supports a populist party, whether on the right or left. Never before have populist parties had such strong support across Europe as they do today, writes the study’s author. He adds that almost no single country is bucking this trend, which he believes is a threat to liberal democracies.
While discussions on populism tend to focus mainly on rightwing populism, the Authoritarian Populism Index presents an overview of the threat of populism, both right-wing and left-wing,
Timbro's stated mission is to ‘originate, promote and disseminate ideas and issues supporting the principles of free markets, free enterprise, individual liberty and a free society’. It focuses on health and welfare reform, environment and growth, culture, migration issues as well as aid and global development.
Translated from Italian by Simon Bradley, swissinfo.ch