A woman casts her ballot during the Swiss Federal Elections in Delemont, Switzerland, 22 October 2023. EFE/EPA/JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT

Swiss federal elections: Conservatives win, Greens fall sharply

Geneva, Oct 22 (EFE).- The Swiss People’s Party (SVP, conservative) won Sunday’s federal elections with 28.6% of the vote, one of its best results ever, while the Greens were the main losers after their big rise four years ago.

As the polls predicted, the SVP, with an increasingly populist discourse and in favor of greater immigration control, increased its share of the vote by 3 points compared to 2019 and won 62 seats in the National Council (lower house of 200 representatives).

That’s nine more seats in the legislature than four years ago, according to the final count.

The SVP, which has been led by Marco Chiesa since 2020, has been Switzerland’s most-voted party since 1995, and the only one in the country’s fragmented political landscape to get close to 30 percent of the total vote.

In second place in today’s election was the Swiss Socialist Party (SP), with 18% of the vote, 1.2 points more than in 2019, which will give it two more seats in the National Council, bringing its number of seats to 41.

In third place were the Christian Democrats of the Center Alliance and in fourth place the Liberals of the Radical Liberal Party (PLR), each with more than 14% of the vote, which will give them 29 and 28 seats, respectively, in the lower house.

The Greens, in decline

The big loser of the elections, as the polls had already predicted, was the environmental Green option, which after its noisy entry into parliament in 2019, when it overtook the Christian Democrats as the fourth largest political force, today received only 9.4% of the vote, 3.8 points less than in 2019.

This condemns them to lose five seats in the National Council, leaving them with 23, after an electoral campaign in which climate change weighed less in the debates than immigration or security, issues fueled by external geopolitical tensions such as the war in Ukraine or the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Forming a government

The upper house will have to go through a second round of voting in some cantons in November.

Then, after the composition of the lower and upper houses is finalized, the Swiss legislature will hold a meeting of its two chambers on December 13 in the Federal Assembly to elect the seven members of the Federal Council ( the executive branch of government).

Given the balance of power in parliament that Switzerland has maintained since the middle of the 20th century, it is expected that the four parties with the most votes (Conservatives, Socialists, Christian Democrats and Liberals) will once again share these seven seats, which will also hold the country’s various ministerial portfolios.

Two of them will go to the SVP, two to the SP, and the Center and the PLR will fight to have one or two councillors in the collegiate body of power. One of the seven is elected president of Switzerland each year, although this position is practically honorary.

In 2019, although the Greens were the fourth formation above the Christian Democrats, they did not manage to enter this grand coalition of four parties, known in Switzerland as the “magic formula”, which has been in force since 1959, with few exceptions, and which is the secret of the country’s political stability, but also of a certain immobility.

The election campaign passed almost unremarked in an apathetic electorate (voter turnout rarely exceeds 50 percent), although the SVP’s increasingly populist discourse stood out.

In its platform, the SVP openly stated that it did not want the country to reach a population of 10 million (it currently has around nine million), which it would try to achieve through more restrictive measures on immigration.

However, it will not be easy to reach a consensus in the peculiar coalition government between right, center and left that Switzerland has had for more than 60 years. EFE