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Blocher accused of using "Stalinist" arguments

The president of Switzerland's Radical Party, Franz Steinegger (file picture), has accused the right-wing parliamentarian, Christoph Blocher, of using the same arguments as Stalin in his attacks on his political opponents.

The president of Switzerland's Radical Party, Franz Steinegger (file picture), has accused the right-wing parliamentarian, Christoph Blocher, of using the same arguments as Stalin in his attacks on his political opponents, in an interview with a Sunday newspaper.

Recently out of hospital for heart treatment, Franz Steinegger jumped straight back into the political fray by accusing the outspoken Zurich parliamentarian, Christoph Blocher, of copying Stalin in his attacks on the People's Party's political opponents.

Steinegger's comments pre-empt a pamphlet, which Blocher has promised to circulate this week. Little is known about the content, but Blocher has already said it amounts to a challenge to "socialists in all parties".

In an interview with the SonntagsBlick, Steinegger said Blocher was applying the term "socialist" to anyone who did not back him.

Steinegger said that, in Blocher's view, anyone who supported Switzerland's bilateral accords with the European Union was at least "half a socialist", including Steinegger himself. A nationwide vote on these accords is scheduled for May 21.

Steinegger also criticised Blocher for likening the Social Democrats to fascists. He said this was the same type of "nonsense" used by Stalin and the former East German government in their efforts to discredit Germany's Social Democrats after the Second World War.

Steinegger said Blocher's aim is to avoid getting embroiled in substantive arguments about issues like social welfare and the bilateral accords. He said Blocher's opposition to both is indefensible, particularly given Switzerland's success in bringing down unemployment, cutting the budget deficit and negotiating favourable deals with the EU.

The Radical Party president ended with a warning. He said the People's Party had already made its intentions clear - that it wanted a "weak government, a weak parliament, and a strong People's Party". Steinegger said this was exactly the same strategy "of the National Socialists and the Communists".

swissinfo and agencies

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