Swiss Green Party poised for historic gains in national vote

GENEVA: Switzerland’s Green Party was poised to make historic gains in national elections on Sunday due to rising fears about climate change, while the anti-immigrant right wing saw its support slip, projections showed.
Ballots were still being counted in the wealthy Alpine nation, but projections released by national broadcaster RTS appeared to confirm the “green wave” that had been forecast before the vote.
The Greens garnered 12.7 per cent of the vote, solidly beating their pre-election projection and marking a five-point bump on their 2015 performance, according the projection by RTS and political research firm Gfs Bern.
Meanwhile, the Green Liberals — an environmentalist party with libertarian socio-economic policies — also gained ground, taking 7.6 per cent of the vote compared to less than five per cent in 2015.
Surveys before the election showed that climate change had displaced migration as the top concern among the electorate, in what the Sotomo political research institute described as one of the most significant shifts in recent Swiss political history.
The Swiss People’s Party (SVP), which has repeatedly been accused of demonising migrants, looked set to remain the largest parliamentary party, with the RTS projecting that it won 26.3 per cent support.
But that is down from the 29 per cent it garnered in 2015.
University of Lausanne political scientist Oscar Mazzoleni said that even a two-per cent fallback would mark “a failure” for the SVP, and further demonstrate that the party is struggling to attract young voters to replace its ageing electoral base.
The SVP is also the only major party that has not pledged to pursue bolder climate action, having denounced “climate hysteria” in Swiss politics.
Speculation will now centre on whether the Greens can force their way into the executive branch for the first time.
Under Switzerland’s unique political system, the election decides the 200 lower house lawmakers and 46 senators elected to four-year terms, but the make-up of the executive Federal Council will not be decided until December. — AFP