Voters show Swiss abroad the red card

Some parliamentarians were forced to leave their seats Keystone

Expatriate Swiss have come away empty-handed from Sunday’s elections to the House of Representatives, failing to win a single seat.

This content was published on October 20, 2003 minutes

Their failure was shared by a number of prominent Swiss politicians who were also snubbed by voters.

The Swiss abroad were unable to make inroads in the House of Representatives despite fielding a record 15 candidates.

Efforts by the Swiss People’s Party to gain a seat in Basel Country for Rolf Schudel, a businessman from South Africa, came to nought.

Schudel polled just 730 votes – he needed more than 20,000 to win a seat in the 200-strong House of Representatives.

The latest results confirm a recurring trend seen since non-resident Swiss were given the right to vote and stand for election in 1992.

The closest an expatriate Swiss came to winning a seat was in 1999.

Backed by the Social Democrats, Pierre-Alain Bolomey from the Belgian capital, Brussels, missed his moment of glory by a matter of 2,000 votes.

Other losses

Twenty-five sitting parliamentarians failed to make it back into the House of Representatives, including members of the four main parties in government - Christian Democrats, Radicals, Social Democrats and the People’s Party.

The Christian Democrats were the worst affected, with nine incumbents being unseated – by members of other parties or their own.

These included the oldest member of the House, Jacques Neirynck, and the former head of the Swiss Farmers’ Association, Melchior Ehrler.

The Radicals waved goodbye to nine members, including disabled rights’ champion, Marc Suter, after more than a decade in the House.

Three Social Democrats lost their seats, along with one from the People’s Party.

The Liberals’ two female parliamentarians were also shown the door.

One of them, Christine Wirz-von Planta, lost the party’s only seat in German-speaking Switzerland.

Oldest and youngest

Among the election winners was Christoph Blocher, figurehead of the rightwing People’s Party, who is the longest-serving member of the House.

This means he will be given the honour of acting as interim president and making the opening address at the first session of the chamber.

The youngest parliamentarian, Evi Allemann, a Social Democrat, will also give a speech. Allemann celebrated her 25th birthday on July 16.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The Swiss abroad candidates failed to win a single seat in the House of Representatives.

Twenty-five parliamentarians lost their seats.

The Christian Democrats were the worst hit, losing nine members in the chamber.

End of insertion
In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

Contributions under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Share this story

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?