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Swiss left threatens cross-party boycott over right's comments

The Social Democrat parliamentary group has unanimously voted to boycott all cross-party discussions with the government, until the People's Party distances itself from comments made by one of its leading figures, Christoph Blocher.

This content was published on March 14, 2000 - 12:04

The Social Democrat parliamentary group has unanimously voted to boycott all cross-party discussions with the government, until the People's Party distances itself from comments made by one of its leading figures, Christoph Blocher.

All 34 Social Democrats in parliament voted to give the right-wing party until Friday to decide on its position. The People's Party president, Ueli Maurer, said he would respond in the coming days, after consulting party members, but emphasized he had not plans to apologise for the comments made by Christoph Blocher.

The row has been brewing since Blocher, the party's most prominent figure, accused the Social Democrats of being closer to fascism than his own right-wing party. He said the support shown by the Social Democrats for moves in the European Union to politically isolate Austria, were evidence of a totalitarian tendency.

The Social Democrat party president, Ursula Koch, described Blocher's comments as "nonsense and insulting". She insisted that unless his party dissociates itself from Blocher's asccusations, her parliamentary group will refuse to participate in the traditional discussions between the four parties represented in the government and the cabinet. The next set of talks is not scheduled until May 18.

Blocher is unrepentant: he has not only refused to apologise, but on Tuesday repeated the allegations. He said of the political stance of the Social Democrats, "The deification of the state, the emphasis upon the collective - that is the essence of Socialism." Speaking in an interview with the German-language radio, DRS, Blocher implied the main difference between that brand of socialism and National Socialism as espoused by the Nazis, was that Hitler's government was involved in a war.

He also underlined his previous comments made about the Social Democrats' attitude towards Austria, describing it as totalitarian.

swissinfo with agencies

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