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Poll confirms steady progress of Greens

Keystone

Four months before Swiss parliamentary elections, support for Green parties has stabilised at over ten per cent – well ahead of their previous score.

This content was published on June 30, 2007 - 00:00

This is in contrast to leftwing and rightwing parties, which continue to lose votes, signalling the end to the polarisation that has marked the Swiss political landscape since 1995.

The fourth election barometer carried out by the gfs.bern institute on behalf of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation – swissinfo's parent company – shows that the Green Party is set to gain 10.9 per cent of votes in the House of Representatives – the chamber that represents the people. This would be well above their score in the 2003 elections – 7.4 per cent.

The liberal Greens, who are on the right of the political spectrum, are also predicted to take 1.3 per cent of the vote.

The survey confirms trends identified in the previous election poll in April which found that the environment and climate were voters' second-biggest concerns – up from eighth and tenth positions in previous elections.

But despite the stabilisation of support for the Greens, only a quarter of those surveyed imagine a Green replacing one of the two Radical representatives in the cabinet – the most likely party to drop a seat. Most voters wish to maintain the current status quo, the poll found.

End of polarisation

The poll also confirms another trend: the end of political polarisation, as the rightwing Swiss People's Party and centre-left Social Democratic Party continue to lose support.

If the vote took place today, the People's Party would still be the biggest party in parliament with 25.1 per cent of the votes, but it would lose 1.6 per cent compared with the previous federal election (26.7 per cent) and 1.1 per cent against April 2007.

This represents the biggest drop of all the political parties and the lowest level by the party since the first gfs.bern surveys in October 2006.

Friday's poll showed the centre-left Social Democrats again in second place with 22.1 per cent – 1.2 per cent down from their position in the 2003 elections.

In third position the centre-right Radicals have managed to check their downward slide and climb back to their previous election level – 17.3 per cent.

Meanwhile, the centre-right Christian Democratic Party is set to increase its score to 15 per cent, compared with 14.4 per cent in 2003.

Biggest concerns

There has not been a marked change in the concerns of the Swiss since the last gfs poll – with integration of foreigners and the environment still uppermost in people's minds. Social questions, such as pensions, unemployment and health, are no longer major worries, according to the survey.

But taxation remains an important issue for voters. The poll found that 73 per cent of people agreed with the recent Swiss Federal Court ruling that canton Obwalden's degressive tax system, aimed at attracting wealthy residents, was unconstitutional.

But there were strong differences of opinion over the ongoing spat with the European Union regarding corporate taxes: 51 per cent said Bern should not negotiate with Brussels, while 47 per cent said a defensive stance could harm Switzerland.

The EU believes the low corporate taxes offered by cantons such as Obwalden and Zug violate a 1972 free trade agreement, calling it a disguised state subsidy. The Swiss authorities have defended themselves, calling the accusation unfounded.

swissinfo, based on a French article by Abigail Zoppetti

In brief

The poll, carried out by the gfs.bern institute on behalf of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation – swissinfo's parent company – is the fourth in a series of eight before the federal election on October 21.

A total of 2,017 people from the three main Swiss language regions were questioned during the first two weeks of June in the representative survey.

It covers only the views about the seats in the House of Representatives.

The error of margin is 2.2%.

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Key facts

Main findings of the poll:
Swiss People's Party: 25.1% (26.7% in 2003)
Social Democratic Party: 22.1% (23.3%)
Radical Party: 17% (17.3%)
Christian Democratic Party: 15% (14.4%)
The Green Party: 10.9% (7.4%)
Expected turnout: 47%

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