Poll: Swiss voters appear to move toward conservative parties.

Four months ahead of parliamentary elections, Swiss voters appeared to be shifting their allegiance toward conservative parties, poll findings showed Friday.

This content was published on June 24, 1999 - 17:56

Four months ahead of parliamentary elections, Swiss voters appeared to be shifting their allegiance toward conservative parties, poll findings showed Friday.

The poll, commissioned by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, found that the conservative People's Party was not only making ground but was also on course to becoming the second strongest party in government.

At the last election in 1995, the People's Party -- one of the four parties in the government -- came in fourth behind the two other centre-right parties, the Radicals and the Christian Democrats.

According to the poll, the People's Party appeared likely to overhaul the Christian Democrats and finish alongside the Radicals with 19 percent.

But despite this swing to the right, the largest party in parliament, the Social Democrats, looked set to retain their share of 21 percent.

Some political analysts said the apparent shift of voter support was due to the increasing number of asylum-seekers in Switzerland, particularly ethnic Albanians from Kosovo.

The poll found that the issue of who gets asylum in Switzerland and how many asylum seekers are allowed into the country is the number one concern of the electorate, followed by unemployment and the federal budget.

The People's Party was seen to be the most active on the asylum front, particularly with its hardline stance to cut down on the number of people seeking refuge in Switzerland.

Other parties -- particularly the Radicals who are seen as more conciliatory on the refugee issue – found themselves losing support among centre-right voters.

While the Social Democrats will likely retain their number one party position, they were not expected to make any gains, according to the poll.

The party’s traditional themes, such as unemployment and European integration, were no longer as important as the foreigners issue.

If the poll holds true, analysts say, the election on October 24 could see an increasing polarisation between the Social Democrats on the left and the People's Party on the right, with the centre losing ground.

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