Switzerland : Swiss voters seek the centre

24 October 2011
Le Temps

Le Temps, 24 October 2011

"Switzerland awakens to a new parliament, very different from the one forecast by the opinion polls," writes Swiss daily Le Tempsfollowing federal elections on October 23. The nationalist and populist Democratic Union of the Centre (UDC), which "for the past twenty years has always won," was subjected to "its first major setback," by obtaining only 26.8% of the vote and by staying below the 30% forecast by the opinion polls. Although the party remains the strongest in the Swiss Confederation, it holds 55 seats in the National Council (lower house), seven less than previously, it has "nonetheless failed to meet its goals," Le Temps says, headlining "The Swiss people's aspiration to a new centre". A people "undoubtedly concerned by some electoral practices [such as virulent posters against immigration] which are not in tune with the image of a peaceful country," the paper says, adding that "In fact, the UDC reflects the image of a hard-line right at a time when the country reckons that it will have to find solutions at the centre to face an economic situation forecast to become more and more difficult and uncertain".

According to Le Temps, the major winners of the election are the new Democratic Bourgeois Party (PBD), a more low-key splinter group of the UDC, which picked up 9 seats, nine more than previously, in the National Council and the Vert'libéraux (Free market Greens), Green Party offshoot, won 12 seats, a nine seat gain. These parties "show a new centre emerging," says the paper, which is "certainly still weak in terms of seats but sufficient to create a new dynamic. Their weight will seriously complicate discussions for the renewal of the Federal Council [government] next December".