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Study: Swiss parties need urgent reorganisation

A newly-released study of Switzerland’s political landscape finds that the main political parties need urgent reforms as they suffer from financial shortfalls, a decline in membership and a workload increasingly difficult to handle.

This content was published on September 3, 1999 - 11:30

A newly-released study of Switzerland’s political landscape finds that the main political parties need urgent reforms as they suffer from financial shortfalls, a decline in membership and a workload increasingly difficult to handle.
The study was carried out by the Swiss National Science Foundation, which based its research on about 180 cantonal party offices throughout the country. Overall, about 300,000 people – which equals 7 percent of all voters -- are members of a party. Most of them are registered with one of the four parties represented in the Swiss government.

The study finds that the centre-right Radical Party, the Christian Democratic Party and, to some degree, the Social Democrats have suffered a significant decline in membership.

Only the conservative Swiss People’s Party has been making up ground recently.

The Radicals, the Christian Democrats, the Social Democrats and the People’s Party are the four parties represented in the seven-minister cabinet.

With the exception of the People’s Party and the Social Democrats, the vast majority of political groups represented in Switzerland’s 26 cantons (states) suffer from financial problems. Party coffers have essentially seen no increase in the past years, researchers found.

There are also very few parties that have full-time employees who carry out party political work on a professional basis.

In light of these facts, the study urges the parties to reconsider their organisational structures.

All major parties have a broad-based network reaching from the national level down to cantonal and regional branches. But with relatively little money, a complex organisational setup and few professional party workers, a reorganisation is urgently needed, the study says.

Party membership in numbers:

Radical Party: 90,000
Christian Democratic Party: 75,000
Swiss People’s Party: 60,000
Social Democratic Party: 40,000

From staff and wire reports.

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