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urban politics The bigger the city, the more left-wing its politics


Zurich, the biggest of Switzerland's big cities.

(© Keystone / Christian Beutler)

In Switzerland, big cities are governed by left-wing administrations, but they are islands in a more centre-right sea. Newly-released statistics confirm the picture.

In the six Swiss cities with over 100,000 inhabitants (Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Lausanne, Bern, Winterthur) left-wing groups held over 70% of local government positions in 2018, the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) reported on Tuesday.

+ Why do Swiss cities lean to the left?

As the towns become smaller, the profile changes: in urban areas of under 20,000, just 23% of seats are held by the left; the most represented group in these towns is the centre-right Liberal Radicals.

Indeed the Liberal Radicals are the most successful party overall in the 172 towns and cities examined by the FSO, holding 30% of the seats. Along with the People’s Party and Christian Democrats, the centre-right and right account for over half of all seats.

Regionally, the picture also conforms to received wisdom: French-speaking towns and cities are more left than the national average, while in Ticino things lean towards the right.

As for the right-wing People’s Party, their urban base is almost exclusively confined to towns and cities in German-speaking Switzerland.

Greens have continued to progress and stood at 7% of seats nationally in 2018.

The FSO also reported on the level of female representation in town administrations: at around 30%, the proportion of women has remained stable for the past two decades, it says.

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