Monday, October 22, 2007

Switzerland: Anti-Immigrant party makes gains in Swiss elections

By Lisa Schlein, Geneva 21 October 2007

The right-wing Swiss People's Party has exceeded expectations, according to initial projections from Sunday's parliamentary elections, taking nearly 29 percent of the vote. The party ran a controversial anti-immigrant campaign that critics described as racist. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.

A Swiss television presenter announces, what she calls, the new face of Parliament. The Swiss People's Party is projected to win six additional seats, which would give it 61 in the 200-seat lower house of parliament. The second biggest winner was the Green Party, projected to gain four seats for a total of 18.

The Social Democrats, the second largest party is projected to have lost nine seats, for a total of 43.

The Swiss People's Party was elated by the result.

Vice President of the Swiss People's Party Yvan Pierre calls the victory "remarkable." He says it was the best result achieved by any political party in Switzerland since 1919, and, therefore, legitimizes its claim to speak for the people.

This has been one of the most bitterly contested elections in Swiss memory. The Swiss People's Party ran a controversial anti-immigrant campaign that backed a law to throw out entire immigrant families if a child commits a crime.

A poster campaign depicted three white sheep kicking a black sheep off a Swiss flag. This attracted international media attention and a sharp rebuke from the United Nations, which branded the campaign as racist.

The People's Party will still have to share power with the three other major parties. The four parties have held more than 75 percent of the seats in parliament for decades.

Published with the permission of Voice of America
Disclaimer: This report does not necessarily reflect the views of Mike Hitchen Consulting