Geneva, Oct 21 (IANS) The Greens, who have moved from being a minority party to being one of the four major political groupings in the Swiss parliament, have been the key players in the elections held in the landlocked Alpine country, where the four traditional government parties lost votes and seats in the legislature.
The conservative Swiss People’s Party (UDC) – who despite everything still received the most votes – along with Socialists, Liberals and Christian Democrats, the four parties who have governed in a coalition since 1959, lost a total of 23 seats in the 200-seat National Council, while the Greens, headed by Regula Rytz, increased their seat total from 11 to 28 and garnered about 13 percent of the vote, Efe news reported on Sunday.
That makes the Greens, with 100 per cent of the votes counted, the fourth-largest party in Switzerland, outpacing for the first time the Christian Democrats, with their 25 seats (down three seats and with 11.4 per cent of the vote), but still behind the UDC (54 seats, losing 12 seats and garnering 25.6 per cent of the vote), the Socialists (39 seats, down from 43, with 16.8 per cent of the vote) and the Liberals (29, down four seats, with 15.1 per cent of the vote).
The strong showing by the environmental party, after a campaign in which the proposals of the different parties to fight climate change have been key elements, has gotten the Greens dreaming of getting into the government after 60 years of a shifting alliance among the historic parties of both right and left.
“We’ve experienced an enormous change and if we’re confirmed as the fourth-largest party there will have to be a discussion about a new ‘magic formula’ to better represent the diversity of parties in the Federal Council,” said Rytz in remarks to national RTS television.
The Federal Council – the seven-member executive council that constitutes the federal government of the Swiss Confederation and serves as Switzerland’s collective head of state and of government – for the past six decades has reflected that “magic formula,” as the Swiss have called the grand coalition of traditional parties.
Currently, there are two conservatives, two Socialists, two Liberals and one Christian Democrat on the Council.
Voters will go to the polls in December to vote on the makeup of the Council during the first meeting of the National Council and the Council of States – Switzerland’s upper legislative chamber – created as a result of Sunday’s elections, although the presence of certain parties on the Federal Council is not always mathematically reflected in the number of seats they hold in the legislature and is agreed upon after negotiations.
The rise of the Greens comes during a year in which many protests have been staged in Switzerland on climate change, most of them led by young people who have joined strikes launched by Sweden’s 16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg.
One of the first organizations to hail Sunday’s election result in Switzerland was Greenpeace, which in a statement said that the planet’s climate was the big winner in the election and demanded that the Swiss parliament take up the priorities that the electorate manifested in the vote.
In another early acknowledgement of the preliminary results, before the final vote tally was released, the vice president of the UDC, Celine Amaudruz, congratulated her party for once again obtaining the most votes after a campaign in which the party took a contrarian stance to expanding relations with the European Union and criticized immigration.
Socialist Vice President Ada Marra, meanwhile, congratulated the Greens for their move into the top echelon of Swiss parliamentary politics, which she said was a very positive development.