Swiss election results: xenophobia 0 commonsense 1

October 24, 2011, 19 Comments

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?

19 Comments on "Swiss election results: xenophobia 0 commonsense 1"

  1. David Monday October 24th, 2011 at 09:30 AM · Reply

    … meaning that New Zealand should win the rugby world cup more often?

  2. swisswatching Monday October 24th, 2011 at 09:38 AM · Reply

    I agree, except that turnout wasn’t “very high by Swiss standards”. It was 48.6%, only 0.3% more than last time. Before 1975 it was always well above 50%. True, it’s higher than in most referendum votes but then you are not comparing like with like; this is a general election so you have to look at those figures. Shame on the 52%, I say.

  3. swisswatching Monday October 24th, 2011 at 09:39 AM · Reply

    Blocher got into the Nationalrat, as did Brunner. Both might yet win the second round of the Ständerat. I wouldn’t write them off just yet.

    • Daniel Monday October 24th, 2011 at 06:56 PM · Reply

      Blocher wil never get into the Ständerat, never.. Would be a real suprise for me. And if, he would have to shut up in there..I hope the centre parties will hold their majority in the Stöckli..

  4. Mark Monday October 24th, 2011 at 10:12 AM · Reply

    We can indeed breathe a sigh of relief! I work near the HB in Zurich where the SVP poster campaign has been very aggressive. Whilst walking through HB in the last few months, as a “foreigner” in Switzerland, I have felt very uncomfortable and unwanted in a country which my family had come to appreciate as “home”. From today, thanks to the Swiss voting for “commonsense”, we can now feel at “home” again!

  5. Luke Monday October 24th, 2011 at 01:17 PM · Reply

    I would like to bring to your attention something I think it’s unique in Europe and maybe in the entire world. In Ticino 2 candidates of the CVP (PPD in Italian) received exactly the same number of votes. What now? A drawing of course!

    • swisswatching Monday October 24th, 2011 at 01:19 PM · Reply

      I saw that in the news and thought it was a misprint! In Britain when that happens they toss a coin. Drawing lots is just as random.

      • M:) Monday October 24th, 2011 at 07:26 PM · Reply

        As a Ticinese living in the United States I am APPALLED that they are considering a TOIN COSS as a first solution… RECOUNT FIRST, then possibly consider a run-off election, but a LOTTERY? OUCH…

        A Lottery means that my vote is not worth the paper it’s submitted on…

        • swisswatching Monday October 24th, 2011 at 08:01 PM · Reply

          I find it odd that a recount isn’t called first, and then resort to luck. That’s what happens in the UK. Even Swiss counters can make mistakes, though it seems that such a possibility is unthinkable for the authorities.

  6. Mark Howells-Mead (@mhm72) Monday October 24th, 2011 at 04:46 PM · Reply

    I don’t agree with the sentiment at all, but I do like the clever way that the marketing people connected “Ausschaffung” with sheep (Schafe).

  7. ericdondero Monday October 24th, 2011 at 06:57 PM · Reply

    A sad day for libertarians and those who oppose the increasing Islamization of Europe. A good day for the forces of political correctness and the weak-knee Neville Chamberlain type appeasors who want to buy off the Islamists and cowtow to their every desire.

    Liberty will suffer indeed. Will Canada and America be next to fall to the Muhammadens?

    Eric Dondero, Publisher

  8. M:) Monday October 24th, 2011 at 07:28 PM · Reply

    The Swiss looked behind the courtains of a Karl-Rovian-Like strategy by the populist SVP, (Swiss People’s Party) who tried to use immigrants (black sheep? really?) as a wedge issue… it backfired…

    Take note American pollsters and political consultants who thought they could do lots of money in Switzerland: the Swiss won’t fall for soundbites or slogans…

  9. swisswatching Wednesday October 26th, 2011 at 07:27 AM · Reply

    Sadly you’re wrong about St Gallen. Both the CVP and SP are putting candidates into the second round, which makes it more than likely that Toni Brunner will sail through the middle. Bad move from the other parties. But I think you’re right that Blocher has no chance in Zurich. As for Bern, I guess Amstutz will make it.

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