Swiss election: Green parties ‘make historic gains’

Green parties’ gains would make them a major player in Swiss politics. From BBC.

BBC

Green parties have made strong gains in Switzerland’s parliamentary election, according to initial projections.

The anti-immigration Swiss People’s Party (SVP) is set to remain the largest party, despite losing at least 3% of its support.

But projections show a combined vote for the two green parties of around 20%.

Their gains reflect voters’ concerns over climate change, seen as the dominant issue in this election.

Not all votes have been counted yet but the national broadcaster projected the Green Party’s share surged 5.6 points to 12.7% of the vote, while the smaller, more centrist Green Liberal Party (GLP) garnered 7.6%.

The Green Party looked set to overtake one of the parties in the coalition government, the Christian Democrats (CVP), and could for the first time get a seat in the coalition that governs Switzerland.

“It is not a green wave, it is a tsunami, a hurricane,” deputy party leader Celina Vara told Swiss radio.

The centre-left Socialists looked set to take second place with 16.5% of the votes, and the centre-right Liberals (FDP) were on track to come in third with 15.2%.

If the two Green parties are able to overcome policy differences and unite, they would represent a potent political force.

As is usual in Switzerland, no single party is expected to secure a majority.

For decades, the seven-seat Federal Council has been dominated by the same four main parties: the SVP, the Social Democrats, the FDP liberals and the CVP, says the BBC’s Imogen Foulkes in Geneva.

The SVP, which is set to remain the largest party in parliament, has campaigned for over a decade on two key messages: restrictions on immigration and asylum seekers, and limiting non-EU member Switzerland’s ties with Brussels.

But these issues were scarcely mentioned in the election campaign, and climate change dominated as the single most important issue.

Green party poster in Berlin, May 2019

Getty Images

How are Greens doing in Europe?

  • 74 out of 751 seats in European Parliament

  • 20.5% of German vote in May 2019 Euro elections

  • 16% in Finnish European vote

  • 13.5% in French EU vote

  • 14% in Austrian election on 29 September

Source: EP/ORF

All year, climate strikes have been taking place in the country, culminating in a huge rally in Bern in September that drew 100,000 people.

The Swiss have only to look up to see the effects of climate change: the Alpine glaciers are melting, and rock and mudslides are threatening mountain communities, our correspondent says.

The Aletsch glacier in SwitzerlandClimate change could cause the biggest glacier in the Alps, the Aletsch in Switzerland, to vanish by the end of the century. Getty Images.

But the election campaign was about more than just a rise in support for green parties.

A record 40% of candidates for the national council were women (as were more than a third of those standing for the second house, the chamber of states).

In June this year, hundreds of thousands of women across Switzerland took to the streets to call for equal pay and conditions, and an end to discrimination.

Media captionSocialist MP Flavia Wasserfallen told Imogen Foulkes in June why women were taking to the streets

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About Kevin Zeese

Kevin Zeese is a public interest attorney who has worked for economic, racial and environmental justice as well as peace since graduating from George Washington Law School in 1980. He co-directs PopularResistance.org which works to build the independent movement for transformational change. Zeese co-hosts, Clearing the FOG a radio podcast which airs on We Act Radio, Progressive Radio Network, and other outlets.  He is recognized as a leading activist in the United States in the series Americans Who Tell the Truth. Zeese was an organizer of the Occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC in 2011.  He serves as president of Common Sense for Drug Policy and is a co-founder of the Drug Policy Foundation, now known as Drug Policy Alliance as well as a former director of NORML. He is a co-founder of Health Over Profit for Everyone which seeks to put in place National Improved Medicare for All. Zeese is an advocate of Internet Freedom and is a leader of the campaign for Title II Net Neutrality to ensure equal access and treatment for everyone on the Internet.  Zeese served on the steering committees of the Chelsea Manning Support Network which advocated for the Wikileaks whistleblower and is on the advisory board of the Courage Foundation which supports Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and other whistleblowers. Zeese is an election integrity advocate who a co-founded TrueVote Maryland which led a successful campaign to end the use of paperless voting machines in the state.  He has been active in independent and third party political campaigns including Peter Camejo for governor of California served as press secretary and spokesperson for Ralph Nader in 2004 and as a senior advisor to Jill Stein in 2016.  He ran for the US Senate in 2006; the only person ever nominated by the Green, Libertarian and Populist Parties of Maryland and the only person ever nominated by the Green and Libertarian Parties for a statewide office. Zeese served as Attorney General in the Green Shadow Cabinet.

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