Renamed Swiss political party seeks new voters

The president of the Christian Democrats, Gerhard Pfister, has been a driving force in renaming the party. Keystone/Ennio Leanza

One of the oldest Swiss political groups, the Christian Democratic Party, has officially been named the Centre after merging with Conservative Democratic Party.

This content was published on November 28, 2020 - 18:15

Delegates of the Christian Democratic Party on Saturday overwhelmingly voted in favour of the merger.

The Conservative Democrats approved the project two weeks ago.

The move went ahead despite opposition by some cantonal chapters of the Christian Democrats which argued it was wrong to drop the reference to religion in its name.

The Christian Democrats traditionally have their roots in Catholic regions of the country.

Their predecessor party has been a major force after the foundation of modern Switzerland in the 19th century even though the Catholic Conservatives were defeated by the Radical and Liberal forces during the civil war in the 1840s.

The Christian DemocratsExternal link have been losing ground in Swiss politics over the past four decades, notably with the rise of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party.

With a share of 11.4% of the vote in the 2019 elections to the House of Representatives, the Christian Democrats fell behind the Green Party and three other major groups.

But they still hold a majority of seats in the Senate and they are represented in most cantonal governments.

For their part, the Conservative DemocratsExternal link are split-off from the People’s Party but they have been struggling to survive at a national level after their only representative in the national government stepped down in 2015.

The current Swiss government is made up to two members each of the People’s Party, the left-wing Social Democratic Party and the centre-right Radical Party. The Christian Democrats hold one seat in the seven-member cabinet.

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