Switzerland has swung further to the political right, with a surge in support for the ultraconservative Swiss People’s party in national elections that were overshadowed by Europe’s refugee crisis. The SVP won 29.5 per cent of the vote, up almost 3 percentage points compared with the last parliamentary election in 2011, according to projections based on official results by the SRF broadcaster. That put the SVP above its previous high of 28.9 per cent won in 2007. The strengthening support for the SVP as Switzerland’s biggest party provides an early indicator of the European political fallout triggered by asylum seekers fleeing wars in countries such as Syria, and could presage rising electoral support for far-right, anti-immigration parties in other countries.
The results were “an indication of what will happen” elsewhere in Europe and would worsen Switzerland’s relations with the EU, said Patrick Emmenegger, politics professor St Gallen university.
While Switzerland has been relatively unaffected by the refugee crisis, especially compared with neighbouring Germany and Austria, fears have risen of uncontrolled immigration. Foreigners comprise 24 per cent of its population
However, the ballot’s effect on Swiss government decisions will be limited by the country’s political system, which requires broad consensus among politicians and frequently sees policymaking subject to national referendums. The leftwing Social Democratic party held its vote steady at 19 per cent, with more centrist parties losing support.