The president of the Swiss People's Party, Ueli Maurer, has strongly rejected a Council of Europe report, which classified his party as "far right". Maurer said the party was profoundly democratic and had no links with the extreme right.This content was published on January 29, 2000 - 13:45
The president of the Swiss People's Party, Ueli Maurer, has strongly rejected a report by the Council of Europe, which classified his party as "far right". At a party congress on Saturday. Maurer said the party was profoundly democratic and had no links with the extreme right.
He said Christian Democrats and Socialists in the Council were seeking to divert attention from their own failures by picking on the party.
The Council of Europe said democracy was threatened by extremist parties and movements, in a report published in Strasbourg last Tuesday. It described as worrying the gains made recently in some European countries by parties which it accused of promoting xenophobia, intolerance or racism, either directly or indirectly.
In particular, it pointed at Austria, Belgium, France, Russia and Switzerland. In Switzerland, the People's Party leapt from third to first place in terms of its share of the vote in last October's general elections. However, the vote had no impact on the make-up of the government, in which the party has held one of the seven cabinet posts since 1959.
Besides rejecting the accusations, Maurer said Switzerland needed a stronger conservative block and urged party members to co-operate more closely with other right-wing parties. But he said this should not be done at any price.
"We are prepared for constructive participation, but we do not need to beg or put up with insults from frustrated party officials," Maurer said.
Party members are meeting to issue recommendations on how their supporters should vote in a series of referenda on March 12.
The delegates recommended voting in favour of an initiative by the supermarket chain, Denner, which calls for initiatives to be put to a referendum within a year. The other major parties are against the measure. Currently, it can take several years in Switzerland for a people's initiative to be put to a vote.
From staff and wire reports
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