The right-wing People’s Party made stunning gains in Switzerland’s parliamentary elections at the weekend. The party significantly boosted its number of seats and pledged to carry on its anti-Europe, low-tax and tough-on-asylum-seekers policies.This content was published on October 24, 1999 - 08:52
The right-wing People’s Party made stunning gains in Switzerland’s parliamentary elections at the weekend. The party significantly boosted its number of seats and pledged to carry on its anti-Europe, low-tax and tough-on-asylum-seekers policies.
The successful showing is unlikely to lead to a government shake-up or radical re-orientation of Swiss politics as the allocation of power in the seven-member cabinet remains unchanged.
But the party -- which already has one seat in the cabinet -- is now a leading force in the House of Representatives, along with the left-leaning Social Democrats and the centrist Radical Party.
People’s Party President Ueli Maurer said there was no question of returning to “business as usual” since the electorate had clearly stated it was unhappy with the other parties and wants more People’s Party policies.
Many Swiss voters appear to support those policies as Switzerland faces the pressures of economic globalisation and as the nation tries to define its position in an increasingly complex European political landscape, political analysts say.
Unemployment -- although on the decrease for months – also appears to have been a key concern for many voters.
Some political observers say that the People Party’s populist figurehead, millionaire businessman and parliamentarian Christoph Blocher, has struck a cord with the public by offering crisp and short answers to often complex political problems.
“I am overwhelmed by the results,” Blocher said. “We will now demand a second seat in the cabinet.”
But he immediately conceded that the other three parties represented in the government -- the Social Democrats, the centrist Christian Democrats and the Radical Party – would block such a move.
In the Senate, the centrist parties and the Social Democrats remain the dominant force. But that was of little comfort to Social Democratic Party President Ursula Koch.
"I'm very disappointed," Koch told Swiss television after the losses for the Social Democrats became clear. "The move to the right is massive, although the People's Party took a lot of votes from the far right."
Koch said her party would assess in the coming days how to respond to this swing to the right.
From staff and wire reports.
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