With just 100 days to go before the Swiss parliamentary elections, the rightwing Swiss People’s Party has increased its lead in the opinion polls.This content was published on July 12, 2003 - 09:52
The number one political issue as far as the Swiss are concerned is pension reform.
The results of the latest poll, carried out by the Bern-based GfS research institute at the end of June, give the People’s Party a 26 per cent share of the vote.
Just over 23 per cent of those polled said they would vote for the centre-left Social Democrats, while the centre-right parties, the Radicals and the Christian Democrats, garner 19 and 14 per cent of the vote respectively.
Winners and losers
The People’s Party is the big winner in the latest poll – climbing to a level that matches its record-breaking high from the beginning of the year.
It had dipped slightly in a survey taken in March.
Its rise in popularity since the last election in 1999 is almost four per cent, while the Social Democrats have increased by around one per cent.
Over the same period, support for both the centre-right parties in government, the Radicals and the Christian Democrats, has decreased by around one per cent.
For the Christian Democrats, the latest poll comes after a fortnight during which it has been reeling from attacks by the Social Democrats.
The centre-left party has accused one of the Christian Democrat cabinet members - the economics minister, Joseph Deiss - of not doing enough for the country’s unemployed and has launched a poster campaign aimed at forcing him out of office.
The two parties - which have often been partners on welfare and social issues in the past - have been at loggerheads recently, with the Social Democrats accusing the Christian Democrats of leaning further and further to the right.
The Social Democrats have made the headlines over the last two weeks claiming they were prepared to support a People’s Party bid for a second cabinet seat – at the expense of the Christian Democrats.
But the row’s impact on voting intentions was not reflected in this poll, which was conducted just before the campaign began.
Public spending, asylum, health and the economy are yet again among the political issues causing most concern to the Swiss electorate.
But for the first time, it is pension reform that tops the list.
The public debate over one aspect of the state pension scheme – increasing the retirement age in Switzerland - was launched in May, after the interior minister, Pascal Couchepin, presented his blueprint for increasing it from 65 to 67 years.
The latest poll shows 61 per cent of Swiss voters are against such an increase.
The poll was conducted among 2,005 people by the GfS research institute on behalf of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation and two national newspapers over a ten-day period at the end of June.
swissinfo, Jonathan Summerton
The People’s Party leads the latest opinion poll with 26 per cent, followed by the Social Democrats (23.4), the Radicals (19) and the Christian Democrats (14.3).
At the 1999 election the People’s Party and the Social Democrats both picked up 22.5 per cent of the vote.
For the first time, the state pension scheme is the number one political issue with the Swiss electorate.
The next parliamentary election will take place on October 19, 2003.
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