Thursday

18th Oct 2018

Historic win for Swiss anti-immigration, anti-EU party

  • The anti-EU Swiss People's Party (SVP) won 29.5 percent of the vote, up from 26.6 percent. (Photo: Metro Centric)

Relations between Brussels and Bern can be expected to stay frosty after Switzerland's anti-immigration party won Sunday's (18 October) lower house elections.

The Swiss People's Party (SVP) won 29.5 percent of the vote, up from 26.6 percent. It won 11 seats and will now occupy 65 of the National Council's 200 seats.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

According to Swiss media, never before proportional representation was introduced in 1919 has one single party been so strongly represented in the National Council.

The SVP campaigned with strong rules on migration, warning of "asylum chaos", and a promise to keep Switzerland out of the European Union.

In an interview with the Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung, SVP leader Toni Brunner said "the federal government is acting as if Switzerland has asylum politics under control. People have noticed that this is not true".

Brunner used the word "Völkerwanderung", which in German is a term employed to describe the so-called Barbarian invasions of non-Roman tribes of the declining Roman empire in the 4th to 9th Century.

Brunner also explained his party's success as proof that the Swiss people do not want closer ties to the EU.

"The fact that Switzerland wants to close a framework agreement with Brussels, which will undermine our sovereignty and people's rights, obviously disturbs a large part of the population", said Brunner.

The centre-left social democrats came second in the election with 18.9 percent, which was only a 0.2 percentage point increase. But with the centre-right Liberal Party (FDP) in third place, a clear right-wing majority has emerged in the National Council.

Several newspapers in neighbouring Germany therefore spoke of a "Rechtsrutsch", a swing to the right.

However, Neue Zuercher Zeitung (NZZ) said it was rather a "return to normality".

In an editorial commentary, the NZZ noted that "a win of several percentage points is hardly a landslide" and that while two right-wing parties now have a majority, they are no homogeneous block but have differing views.

"[The term] 'Rechtsrutsch', like 'asylum chaos', is a part of the vocabulary of fear", the paper noted.

Switzerland is a country with a strong tradition of grand coalitions, with a federal government that consists of seven members, and a position of federal president that rotate between them.

However, the vote is indicative of the mood in the country, and is likely to influence relations with the European Union.

Last year, the Alpine nation voted in an SVP-backed referendum "against mass immigration". Following the vote, it announced new rules that included immigration quotas for EU citizens as of 2017, something which Brussels says is incompatible with Switzerland's participation in the border-free Schengen area.

The EU is expecting a new referendum if Switzerland wants to normalise relations, diplomat Maciej Popowski said earlier this year.

EU inks bank secrecy deal with Swiss

The EU and Switzerland inked a landmark deal on Wednesday aimed at clamping down on banking secrecy and preventing EU citizens from hiding undeclared cash in Swiss bank accounts.

EU warns Switzerland after anti-migrant vote

Swiss voters have backed a call to cap migration from EU countries - a move which could trigger the exclusion of the Alpine country from the EU internal market.

Switzerland threatens EU immigration quota

The Swiss government announced it would limit immigration from EU countries with a unilateral quota by March 2016 if it is unable to strike a deal with the EU.

Bavarian election puts Merkel on defensive

Voters in Germany's largest state hived off to the left and right of the ruling conservatives in Sunday's elections - posing questions for Merkel's authority.

News in Brief

  1. Poland questions supremacy of EU court
  2. Medvedev to meet Juncker and Merkel in Brussels
  3. Italians and Czechs least favourable to remaining in EU
  4. Facebook hack set to be first major test of EU data rules
  5. Barnier open to extending Brexit transition period
  6. Juncker mulls rejection of Italy's 2019 budget
  7. German justice minister to lead SPD in European elections
  8. Tusk: May should come with new Brexit proposals

EU parliament will not budge on office expenses

Hungarian centre-right MEP Livia Jaroka sticks to earlier decision: documents related to the minor reform of the expenses system, requested by EUobserver, should remain secret.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. No progress at Brexit summit, talks continue
  2. May faces EU leaders head-to-head as Brexit deal falters
  3. Nordic region's top bank in new Russia funds complaint
  4. Why 'Spitzenkandidat' is probably here to stay
  5. EU ministers struggle to deal with Poland and Hungary
  6. Commission tried to hide details of 'WiFi4EU' glitch
  7. Brexit standoff continues before EU summit
  8. ASEM: Global Partners for Global Challenges

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us