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Parliament endorses stricter controls against right-wing extremism

Right-wing extremist graphic


Parliament has come out in support of increased measures to combat right-wing extremism, but stopped short of calling for a ban on extremist parties.

The House of Representatives on Thursday held a wide-ranging debate on the perceived rise in right-wing extremism in Switzerland. Most speakers expressed concern, and many warned of dramatising incidents.

The justice minister, Ruth Metzler, reiterated that the government was taking the situation seriously, but said there was no need for emergency measures, including an immediate ban on extremist parties.

Most speakers approved the government's policy, which foresees legal amendments, closer international police cooperation, and continuing vigilance.

The discussions focused on how to combat racists and right-wing militants and ways of helping victims of extremism, including foreigners, and members of religious and ethnic minorities.

Differences emerged over whether more police intervention is necessary to prevent racism. The debate sometimes drifted off to become a verbal punch-up between centre-left and right-wing parties.

The Social Democratic and Green Parties accused the People's Party of fostering right-wing extremism by adopting populist and nationalist policies.

Speakers for the People's Party responded that left-wing extremism was as dangerous as that from the right.

The issue of right-wing extremism has come to the fore in the past few months following well-publicised attacks against foreigners in both Switzerland and Germany, and an attempt by extremists to interrupt a public speech by the finance minister, Kaspar Villiger.

by Urs Geiser

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