Far-right and militant groups in French-speaking Switzerland have been gaining in strength due to the populist resurgence ahead of the presidential election in neighbouring France, Swiss media reported.
For the first time in years, the extremist adherents of racist and nationalist ideologies are becoming more organized, outspoken and active in western Switzerland largely because of the popularity of far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, according to Swiss newspaper Sonntagsblickexternal link.
French voters took to the polls amid tight security on Sunday to decide the first round of a high-stakes presidential race among 11 contenders. It was the first time in France’s modern history that a presidential election was carried out in a state of national emergency.
The results carry huge implications for the future of Europe and the balance of power in the West, even threatening the existence of the European Union and NATO, particularly in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 election and the Brexit vote in the UK.
The extremists in Switzerland reportedly have organised recent demonstrations, football tournaments and secret combat training. For evidence the newspaper pointed to a video posted on social media that depicts brutal combat exercises conducted on April 1.
One group, Résistance Helvétique (Swiss Resistance), has grown from its founding in canton Valais to now include branches in cantons of Fribourg, Geneva and Vaud. It espouses banning political parties and asylum for foreigners, and reintroducing the death penalty, illegal in Switzerland since 1942.