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Right wing holds on to poll lead

Christoph Blocher, a leading figure of the Swiss People's Party (svp- zurich) swissinfo.ch

The rightwing Swiss People's Party is holding on to a narrow lead, according to the latest poll on voting intentions for October's general election.

This content was published on March 25, 2003 - 19:17

With 24.6 per cent, the People's Party is only just ahead of the centre-left Social Democrats.

The poll, conducted by the Bern-based GfS institute at the beginning of March, said the People's Party clocked up strong gains last autumn in the run-up to a vote on toughening Switzerland's asylum laws.

The party's popularity has receded - down 1.4 per cent since last October - but it is still well ahead of the 22.5 per cent share of the vote secured during the 1999 election.

Public attention had now shifted to economic concerns, according to GfS, a trend which has worked in favour of the Social Democrats and the centre-right Radicals, who hold 24.2 and 20.6 per cent of the vote respectively.

The Radicals have seen their popularity rise since January by almost two per cent, while the centre-right Christian Democrats continue to flounder at the bottom of the league, with 15.1 per cent support.

Improvement

The Radicals have been boosted by a change at the head of the party, with newcomer Christiane Langenberger received positively by the media.

The four parties make up the Swiss government under the "Magic Formula" which has existed since 1959.

Two cabinet posts go to the Radicals, Christian Democrats and Social Democrats, while the People's Party has just one seat.

The populist People's Party is looking for a strong showing in October's general election to lend weight to its campaign for a second cabinet seat.

The poll, conducted on behalf of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, interviewed 2,012 people across the country.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The rightwing Swiss People's Party is Switzerland's most popular party, according to the March poll, with 24.6 per cent of the vote.
The Social Democrats are a close second, with 24.2 per cent support.
The Christian Democrats are the weakest of the country's four leading parties, with 15.1 per cent.

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