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Green parties get the green light: Swiss elections demonstrate huge green party gains

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The historic victory of the Swiss Green parties in the recent Federal elections marks a significant shift in the Alpine country’s political arena. While the reasons are manifold, it can only be concluded that the GREEN WAVE is taking over conventional political agendas.

Switzerland, which has been forever dominated by four traditional parties; SVP (Swiss People’s party), SPS (Social Democratic Party), FDP (The Liberals) and CVP (Christian democratic people’s party), witnessed a ‘tectonic shift’ in the late October elections.

Although the far-right SVP secured the maximum number of seats, their share of votes decreased from 29.4% to 25.6%, while the Greens and Green liberals saw gains of 13.2% and 7.8%.

The Greens have taken 28 House seats, more than doubling their representation

GfS Bern research and polling institute’s political scientist, Lukas Golder says that “the spectacular gains for the Greens are a real surprise, particularly in the French-speaking part of the country”. The Greens have taken 28 House seats, more than doubling their representation, placing them ahead of the Christian Democrats, and only one seat behind the radicals.

Extinction Rebellion and warriors like Greta Thunberg have made it clear that the climate emergency is no longer a territorial issue but a matter of global concern

Evidently, the unprecedented attention place upon the climate emergency over the last few months has had a remarkable impact on public opinion, dramatically influencing political opinions. Initiatives like the Extinction Rebellion and warriors like Greta Thunberg have made it clear that the climate emergency is no longer a territorial issue but a matter of global concern.

In light of this, right wing parties still refusing to acknowledge the threats of climate change has not gone down well with voters. In their election posters, the SVP pledged to protect Swiss citizens from three angry aggressors: A Middle-Eastern looking man with a beard, a bespectacled man in a jumper bearing the stars of the EU flag, and a girl wearing her hair in the distinctive style of Greta Thunberg’s braids. But the tried and tested messages failed to cut through, with the party facing a larger than expected loss of 3.8%.

with numerous street protests demanding climate action taking place over the past 10 months, it is no surprise that the SVP struggled to attract young voters

The SVP is the only major party that has not pledged to pursue bolder climate action, having constantly denounced “climate hysteria” in Swiss politics, and like 2015, placed a significant focus on the European refugee crisis. Considering the extent of attention given to climate action, with numerous street protests demanding climate action taking place over the past 10 months, it is no surprise that the SVP struggled to attract young voters, the youth being naturally more attracted to more liberal ideals.

Evidently, voters’ environmental concerns dominated the outcome of Sunday’s vote, and the focus in the coming weeks will turn to whether the Greens or a coalition of the two parties will claim one of the seven seats in the national cabinet, which has been made up of the same four parties for the last 60 years.

Last modified: 8th November 2019

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