Swiss politics became the ultimate soufflé yesterday: full of hot air and with the middle rising nicely. Left and right lost votes and seats, while the two new parties in the centre broke through in spectacular fashion. The widely-expected, and expensively bought, SVP victory failed to materialise and the right-wing party was left wondering what its millions had achieved. Thanks to a computer failure in Canton Vaud, the complete final results were late coming in so here are the headlines, just in case you’ve missed them (for who the main parties are, see this previous post): In the Nationalrat (or Lower House), where seats are divided up by canton and mainly won by proportional representation, the big losers were the SVP, the FDP and the Greens. Not doing so well were the SP and CVP. Very happy were the newer parties, GLP and BDP.
- SVP 54 seats (-8), 26.6% (-2.3%). It lost more votes than almost anyone else but remains the largest party. It lost votes for the first time since 1987 (also the last time New Zealand won the rugby World Cup, as they did again yesterday).
- SP 46 seats (+3), 18.7% (-0.8%). Its lowest vote share in many decades but still managed to gain two seats, including one from the SVP in Vaud. Strongest showings in Schaffhausen, Jura and Vaud.
- FDP 30 seats (-5), 15.1% (-2.6%). A disastrous night for the founding party of modern Switzerland. Nearly wiped out in Bern, lost its seat in Graubünden for the first time since 1919 and even almost lost its president in Ticino – Fulvio Pelli won by 58 votes.
- CVP 28 seats (-3), 12.3% (-2.2%). Squeezed in the middle from all sides, the Christian Democrats did particularly badly in Aargau, where it lost two of its three seats.
- Greens 15 seats (-5), 8.4% (-1.2%). Not many votes lost but a quarter of its seats, thanks to party lists and the cantonal seat divisions. Hard to see much good news for them as the GLP steal all their thunder.
- GLP 12 seats (+9), 5.4% (+4%). Storming through in the big cantons, such as Bern and Zurich. The GLP is the sexy ‘in’ party and won votes from left, right and centre.
- BDP 9 seats (+9), 5.4% (+5.4%). The newest party, formed when the SVP split in 2007, did best in Bern, Glarus and its heartland of Graubünden, where it captured 20.5% of the vote and almost overtook the SVP for first place.
- Others 6 seats (same), 8.1% (-0.3%). The local right-wingers did well in Ticino and Geneva (Lega & MCG respectively), the evangelical EVP held two seats and EDU lost its one.
In the Ständerat (or Upper House) each canton has two seats and candidates have to win more than 50% to be elected. If that doesn’t happen, a second round takes place next month, so final results are not known until then. Many Ständerat races are still in the balance.
- With 25 seats decided, the SP has 8, CVP and FDP both 7, SVP 4 and Greens 1. The remaining 21 seats go to a second round.
- The SVP ‘storm into the Senate’ proved to be a storm in a teacup. Its big names – Christoph Blocher, Toni Brunner, Caspar Baader, Adrian Amstutz – all failed to win in the first round so must face the voters again.
- The SP won a Ständerat seat in Aargau for the first time since the 1940s. Victorious Pascale Bruderer won eight days after giving birth to a daughter.
- Three-way ties in Bern and Zurich means that these will be the two races to watch in the second round, on 20 and 27 November respectively.
- Roger Federer won 132 votes in the Schwyz contest. He wasn’t standing officially but his name was written in.
So the drama is over for another four years. Or at least this part of it. Next month are the second rounds for the Ständerat, and then in December the Bundesrat (Federal Council) elections in parliament, and that will be the most interesting part of all.
Switzerland seems a greener, fairer place than on Saturday. The rampant xenophobia and provocative posters of the SVP backfired, with most voters choosing other parties: a far cry for ‘Schweizer wählen SVP’, or Swiss people vote SVP, as it had vainly proclaimed. Today is a good day, at last, to be a foreigner in Switzerland. Perhaps, now that the Swiss have come to their senses, we will no longer be seen as the black sheep that the SVP portray us to be. In fact, that infamous poster showed three white sheep kicking one black one out. With the SVP rejected by 75% of Swiss voters, is it now the real black sheep of Swiss politics?