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Swiss elections: polls show right-wing populists and Socialists may fare well

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Issues including climate change, rising health care costs and migration are thought to be the biggest concerns among the Swiss electorate.


Exit polls conducted for Switzerland’s public broadcaster showed the country’s right-wing populist party was set to further strengthen its position as the largest faction in parliament in a legislative election on Sunday that saw the leading Green party lose ground.

Broadcaster SSR said the right-wing Swiss People’s Party was on track to collect 29% of the vote in the national balloting, an increase of nearly 3.5% compared to the last such vote four years ago. 

The Socialists edged up nearly a 0.5 percentage point, while the Greens lost more than 4 percentage points to fall under 10%, according to the exit poll.

The election of the 200-seat lower house, known as the National Council and the 46-seat Council of States, the upper house, will set the tone for Swiss policy as the rich Alpine country adapts its self-image as a “neutral” country outside the European Union.

It also comes as the nation grapples with issues like climate change, rising health care costs and migration.

Final ballots will be collected on Sunday after the vast majority of Swiss made their choices by mail-in voting.

The vote could indicate how another slice of Europe’s electorate is thinking about right-wing populist politics and the need to spend money and resources to fight global warming at a time of rising inflation that has pinched many pocketbooks – even in well-to-do Switzerland.

The main stakes, if pollsters turn out to be right, are whether two Green parties fare worse than they did in the last election in 2019 and whether the country’s newly created centrist alliance might land more seats in parliament’s lower house than the free-market party – boosting their position in the executive branch.

The right-wing Swiss People’s Party currently has the most seats in parliament, with more than one-quarter of seats in the lower house, followed by the Socialists at 39.

A new formation calling itself ‘The Centre’ – born of the fusion in 2021 of centre-right Christian Democrat and ‘Bourgeois Democrat’ parties – is making its debut in a parliamentary vote, and could together eclipse the free-market Liberal party as the third-largest party in the lower house.

Polls suggest the Swiss have three main preoccupations in mind: rising fees for the obligatory, free market-based health insurance system; climate change, which has eroded Switzerland’s numerous glaciers – and worries about migrants and immigration.

The parliamentary vote is one of two main ways that Switzerland’s 8.5 million people guide their country. Another is through regular referendums – usually four times a year – on any number of policy decisions, which set guideposts that parliament must follow as it drafts and passes legislation.

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