Thursday, 6 March 2014

Switzerland: Nationalist party wins highest vote percentage ever recorded

A Swiss party known for its anti-immigration policies has become the most popular party in Switzerland's political history.

The nationalist Swiss People's Party won the best single-party vote ever recorded for a political party in the land-locked mountain nation.
But because of Switzerland's complex voting system, Sunday's national parliamentary election still leaves the country ruled by the same four-party government, covering a wide spectrum of political views.
The right-wing movement, which ran a campaign blaming foreigners for much of the country's crime, achieved 29 per cent of the parliamentary vote, one per cent higher than any previous single-party vote.
It added seven seats to bring its total to 62 in the 200-seat National Council, the lower house of parliament.
In the campaign the People's Party called for a law to throw out entire immigrant families if a child violates Swiss laws.
The policy proposal was just the most recent variation in the party's long-running anti-foreigner theme.
"I'm very happy," said People's Party president Ueli Maurer.
"We have reached the highest score ever since this electoral system began."
Maurer said the People's Party would now turn its attention to reducing crime, cutting taxes and keeping Switzerland out of the European Union.
"The idea of EU accession should at last get out of everyone's heads," Maurer said.
A Swiss bid for EU membership filed in the 1990s has been suspended by the Cabinet in recent years, and the People's Party - which campaigns for strict adherence to Swiss traditions of neutrality and independence - wants the application withdrawn completely.
The People's Party claims foreigners are responsible for much of the crime in the country.
Party posters featuring white sheep kicking out a black sheep sparked outrage that was blamed in part for a riot two weeks before the election.
Switzerland's population of 7.5 million includes about 1.6 million foreigners, including many workers from southern Europe and refugees from the Balkan wars of the 1990s.
Applicants for Swiss citizenship typically must wait years and clear administrative hurdles before they are granted Swiss passports.
Meanwhile, the Social Democrats, who focused their campaign on rejecting the People's Party proposal, lost nine seats in the vote.
Some voters expressed concern over the results.
"I'm very disappointed that the Swiss people fell for such an election campaign by the People's Party," said Matthias Weller, a 30-year-old physician in Zurich.
"People don't realize that their campaign is just made with money. They don't have a program, except for cutting government spending."
Although many saw the campaign as tainted by racism or xenophobia, the Swiss elected their first black parliament member Sunday - Ricardo Lumengo of the Social Democrats, an Angolan who arrived in Switzerland as an asylum seeker the 1980s and subsequently became a legal expert.


Post a Comment


Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More