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New political party says it's here to stay

The newest Swiss political party in government, the Conservative Democratic Party, has celebrated its one year anniversary, saying that it has defied expectations.

The centre-right group was founded by more moderate members of the right-wing Swiss People's Party, who were unhappy with the party management line.

A celebration of the anniversary – officially November 1 - was held in Chur in the presence of the party's cabinet member, Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf. She is one of seven ministers from five parties in Switzerland's government.

There are currently ten cantonal Conservative Democrat parties, with at least three more due to be founded, and around 6,000 members, the party said on Saturday. It also has six parliamentarians. "We came to stay," said a party statement, adding that it had defied expectations and had become a fixture in the Swiss political landscape.

Party head Hans Grunder told Swiss public radio that he had ruled out any fusion with larger centre-right parties and said that the party would be focusing on the environment, energy policy and small and medium-sized businesses.

The group's founders supported the rivals of the former justice minister, Christoph Blocher, who failed to win re-election to cabinet in 2007.

The newly-elected Widmer-Schlumpf, as well as the then defence minister Samuel Schmid, were thrown out of the People's Party, accused of betraying Blocher. Schmid's post has since gone to a member of the People's Party.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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