Political parties spent CHF12.5 million ($13 million) on the election campaign in September, more than two-thirds as much as the entire amount spent since April. The conservative right Swiss People’s Party and the centre-right Radical Party together accounted for 74% of the total spend over the past six months.
After a slow summer period, parties significantly ramped up their campaign spending for the upcoming parliamentary election. Voters are due to go to the polls on Sunday, October 18 to choose a new Swiss parliament for a statutory four-year term.
According to a survey by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), the parent company of swissinfo.ch, political parties in September spent CHF12.5 million on billboards, flyers and advertising both in newspapers and online. Between April and September, a total of CHF18 million was spent on advertising – up 8% on the same period in 2011 when the previous federal election was held.
Observers expect the 2015 election to be the most expensive in history, possibly costing as much as CHF170 million, which would be a third more than was spent in 2011.
Between April and September spending by the conservative right Swiss People’s Party SVP (using German-language acronyms) and the centre-right Radical Party (FDP) amounted to 74% of the total. The People’s Party is at the same level as during the previous elections in 2011 (+3%), but spending by the Radical Party has jumped by 42% from CHF4.2 million to CHF6 million.
The Christian Democrats (CVP) have invested less (-47%), compared to 2011, and the Social Democrats’ (SP) spending remains flat. Smaller parties like the Greens (Grüne), the Conservative Democratic Party (BDP) and Liberal Green Party (GLP) have much less to invest in campaign advertising – around CHF500,000 each – but this still represents an increase on 2011.
Although Switzerland is often held up as a model of democracy, it is the only country in Europe without campaign disclosure laws.
For that it is regularly criticised by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and by the Council of Europe's European Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), which monitored the last elections. Transparency International also issues warnings from time to time.