Green vote rises to 13% in Switzerland

Green vote rises to 13% in Switzerland

Switzerland’s general election has been dominated by a “green wave” as environmental issues dominated debates in the Alpine nation. 

“We have clearly beaten our expectations,” Green Party vice president Lisa Mazzone said. 

“We are tremendously pleased that the mobilisation we saw on the streets has translated into votes. We are heading towards a historic score,” she told national broadcaster RTS.

The Greens received 13-per-cent support, exceeding the party’s pre-election forecast. It marked a six-point rise on the 2015 performance. 

The results marked “a tectonic shift”, said Green Party president Regula Rytz, and the left-wing party demanded an “urgent convening of a national climate summit”.

The Green Liberals, an environmentalist party with libertarian socio-economic policies, took 7.6 per cent of the vote compared to below 5 per cent in the 2015 election. 

If the two Green parties can overcome policy differences and unite, they would represent a powerful political force.

Surveys before the election suggested climate change had overtaken immigration as the biggest concern of the electorate. 

The Swiss People’s Party (SVP), which is accused of demonising immigrants, took 25.6-per-cent support, RTS projected, down from 29 per cent in 2015.

With its ageing electoral base, the SVP is also the only major party not promising environmental action, denouncing “climate hysteria” in national politics. The SVP also condemns the influence of the European Union in Switzerland, which is closely aligned but not a member. 

But the EU and migrants were scarcely mentioned in the election campaign and climate change dominated as the most important issue.

The Swiss political system means the general election decides the 200 lower house MPs and 46 senators for four-year terms but the makeup of Switzerland’s executive branch, the seven-seat Federal Council, will not be decided until December.

Under the “magic formula” for power-sharing, six cabinet seats are divided between the SVP, the Socialists and the right-of-centre Free Democratic Party (PLR), with the centrist Christian Democrats taking the seventh seat. The presidency rotates annually between the four parties. 

It is unclear if the Greens will join the cabinet.

The Christian Democrats, who have been represented in the cabinet since the formula was introduced in 1959, are seen as representing Switzerland’s centrist voters.

The Greens may look to take a Federal Council seat from the right-wing PLR but may have to ally with the Green Liberals to do so.

Rytz said the Greens belonged in government. “Now is the time … [other parties] may need to discuss a new magic formula”.


Melting Swiss glaciers have gained media attention. Picture credit: Wikimedia 



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