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Swiss firms bankroll Republican election campaign

George W Bush (right) benefits far more from Swiss largesse than Al Gore

(swissinfo.ch)

Swiss companies are some of the leading foreign contributors to campaign coffers of the United States presidential campaigns. In the past year, they reportedly bankrolled the Republican party to the tune of $1.2 million (SFr2.1 million).

Generous donations to US presidential candidates are nothing new: every four years Swiss firms with US interests put their "donation dollars" in the hands of the presidential candidate they feel would best serve their interests.

This time they are betting on George W Bush, according to an article published on Monday in the French language Swiss newspaper, "Le Temps".

But they are hedging their bets - the paper claims that the Democratic Party also benefited from Swiss donations, but to a lesser extent, attracting around $400,000 to Al Gore's campaign.

Paul Coudret, financial editor at Le Temps told swissinfo: "It isn't unusual for Swiss companies to get involved in this sort of financing; Swiss companies have been doing this for years."

He added that Swiss firms, along with the rest of big business, traditionally support the Republican candidate because the conventional wisdom has it that the Republicans are more pro-business.

In total, Le Temps says Swiss firms' contributions account for 0.6 per cent of the donations received by Bush's campaign and 0.3 per cent of those received by Gore's.

Coudret also points out that Swiss firms are giving more than other foreign companies active in the US market.

"Credit Suisse First Boston is giving $374,000 to the Republican party. That's far more than Deutsche Bank, for instance, which is the only other big foreign bank involved in campaign financing.

"It's the same in the pharma sector where Novartis is giving much more than its competitors from other countries such as Rhone Poulenc or Hoechst."

Neither Novartis or Credit Suisse were available for comment.

US campaign finance is an open book: companies must disclose which political parties they support, and candidates must reveal where their financing comes from.

This is not the case Switzerland, where demands for transparency in party funding have long been resisted by all political parties.

by Tom O'Brien

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