Couchepin calls for centre-right alliance

Should the centre-right parties present joint candidates in 2007? Keystone

The Swiss interior minister, Pascal Couchepin, has called on the Radical and Christian Democratic Parties to join forces ahead of federal elections in 2007.

This content was published on December 26, 2004

The proposal has sparked both scepticism and interest among Swiss politicians.

In an interview with the “SonntagsZeitung” newspaper, Couchepin said closer cooperation was needed between the two groups in order to “counterbalance” the country’s centre-left Social Democratic Party and the rightwing Swiss People’s Party.

“It is time for the Radicals and Christian Democrats to come together and reach an agreement,” said Couchepin, who represents the Radicals to the Swiss cabinet.

Political force

He added that competition between the two parties would look “politically bad” and that the centre-right parties should present joint candidates in all cantons during the next round of national elections.

Couchepin used the example of recent communal elections in the French-speaking town of Martigny to demonstrate how much the centre-right stood to gain by joining forces.

During those elections, the Radicals won 43 per cent of the vote, while the Christian Democrats took 24 percent.

The Social Democrats and People’s Party took away just 14 and five per cent of the ballots respectively.

According to Couchepin, a centre-right alliance could lead to a clear majority win for the Radicals and Christian Democrats in future elections.

Mixed reaction

Responding to Couchepin’s proposal, the president of the Christian Democrats, Doris Leuthart, said she was “interested” by the idea.

“In the long term, it would provide a strong centre between the left and rightwing poles,” said Leuthart.

But some of Couchepin’s fellow Radical party members have expressed scepticism over his suggestion.

The party's interim president, Marianne Kleiner, and Parliamentarian, Peter Weigelt, both said alliances should be created based on political themes rather than along party lines.

For example, the Radical’s position on fiscal policy is closer to that of the People’s Party than the Christian Democrats’.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The Swiss cabinet is made up of seven members and posts are shared among the country’s four main political parties.
The People’s Party, the Radicals and the Social Democrats each have two seats in cabinet while the Christian Democratic Party has one.

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