Worries over global warming boost hopes of Green Party

Staying fit for the 2019 parliamentary elections: Health and environmental issues seem more important for voters at the moment than immigration and Swiss independence. Keystone/Anthony Anex

Parties to the left of the centre could win some ground in in the 2019 parliamentary elections at the expense of the right, pollsters say. The main public concerns are social security and environmental issues. Except for expatriate Swiss citizens: their focus are relations with the European Union.

This content was published on October 4, 2018 - 17:00

Of the eight main political parties in the Swiss parliament,  the People’s Party would still come out top with 27.4% if elections to the House of Representatives were held now – more than 12 months ahead of the scheduled date. But the rightwing party would lose about 2% of the vote compared with the 2015 elections.

The other main loser would be the centrist Christian Democrats, which look set to continue their decline, according to Michael Hermann of the Sotomo research instituteExternal link. It carried out the survey on behalf of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC),’s parent company.

The two main winners would be the leftwing Green Party and the centre-right Radical Party.

Hermann says it comes somehow as a surprise that the Radicals, traditionally linked to the business community, are doing so well while the voters’ main concerns are the reform of the old age pension scheme and the growing costs of mandatory health insurance.

“The strength of the Radicals is probably the result of the weaknesses of other political parties in the centre and on the right,” says Hermann.

The People’s Party may lose support since its traditional anti-immigration and Swiss independence agenda is at this point not a top worry of voters, while the Christian Democrats seem to be at pains to reverse their long-running losing streak, which began more than 40 years ago, according to the Sotomo research institute.

“The Swiss parliament appears to be heading for a slight shift to the left,” Hermann says.

If confirmed it would reverse the result from the 2015 elections. At the same time, the political centre would lose more ground compared with 2011.

The centre-right currently holds a slim majority of 101 seats in the 200-strong House of Representatives. In the 46-seat Senate, the centre-left has a clear majority.

Election barometer

The SBC Election Barometer is an online poll by the Sotomo research institute in Zurich.

The second of six surveys is based on valid data from 12,179 respondents, including 546 expatriate Swiss citizens. It was carried out between September 13-18.

The margin of error is +/- 1.5% according to Sotomo.

The Zurich-based research institute produces the surveys on behalf of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) in the run-up to the October 20, 2019 parliamentary elections.

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Expat Swiss concerns

For the first time, the survey was able to include information from the Swiss Abroad community. Pollsters found that the main concern for expat respondents are Switzerland’s relations with the EU (47%), ahead of global warming (35%), the reform of the state old age pension scheme (33%) as well as health insurance issues (26%).

The findings differ from those of Swiss residents and were to be expected, according to Hermann, as most expat Swiss live in EU member countries.

When it comes to party preferences among expats, the People’s Party comes second (21%) behind the Social Democrats (24%) but ahead of the Radicals (19%).

Hermann cautions that the main concerns of citizens remain subject to change over the next 12 months.

But he says the forthcoming election in December of two new government ministers is unlikely to have a major impact on the campaigns of the 2019 parliamentary elections.

He adds that the current percentage figures are significant for the strength of a political party and have a solid scientific base. However, it is not possible to forecast possible seat attributions in the House of Representatives.

The next SBC-commissioned poll is scheduled for next February.

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