German poll result unlikely to have major impact

The victory of the main centre-right parties in Germany's elections is unlikely to have a major impact on relations with Switzerland, according to experts.

This content was published on September 28, 2009 - 15:41

"Switzerland might be overestimating its importance for German politicians," said Klaus Armingeon of Bern University.

He said the international pressure on Swiss banking secrecy was likely to continue, but the tone in bilateral relations might be a bit more friendly.

Neighbouring Germany is Switzerland's main trading partner and has been locked in a dispute over tax policy and banking secrecy as well as landing rights at Zurich airport over the past few years.

For his part, Roger de Weck, a Swiss commentator and Europe expert, warns against high hopes after Sunday's election victory of the Christian Democratic Union and the Free Democrats.

"Germany's debts will soar if the centre-right alliance goes ahead with the announced tax breaks.

"As a result there is likely to be increased pressure on the government to crack down on tax evasion and tax flight," de Weck said.

Armingeon interprets the result in Germany as a sign that Switzerland's two main centre-right parties, the Radicals and the Christian Democrats, have reason to be concerned about the next elections.

Their positions between the rightwing and the centre-left are difficult and voters have become less faithful to their parties, he said.

On Sunday, Chancellor Angela Merkel has won a second term and a majority for a new centre-right government in Germany's parliamentary election.

Merkel's new coalition has a comfortable majority, compared with other parties' combined 290 seats.

Her conservative Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian partner, the Christian Social Union, won 33.8 per cent of the vote. Their new coalition partner, the Free Democrats, took 14.6 per cent.

The centre-left Social Democrats, Merkel's partner in the outgoing Grand Coalition won 23 per cent.

Urs Geiser, (with input from Gaby Ochsenbein)

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