Swiss election: Green parties make historic gains – BBC News

Swiss Green Party president MP Regula Rytz (2nd L) reacts with party members at their meeting place waiting for the first results during the general election in the Swiss capital, Bern.

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Green parties’ gains would make them a major player in Swiss politics

Green parties have made strong gains in Switzerland’s parliamentary election, according to initial projections.

The anti-immigration Swiss People’s Party (SVP) is set to win, despite losing at least 3% of its support.

But projections show a combined vote for the two green parties of around 20%, which would make them major players in Swiss politics.

Their gains reflect voters’ concerns over climate change, seen as the dominant issue in this election.

Not all votes have been counted yet but the national broadcaster projected the Green Party’s share surged 5.6 points to 12.7% of the vote, while the smaller, more centrist Green Liberal Party (GLP) garnered 7.6%.

The Green Party looked set to overtake one of the parties in the coalition government, the Christian Democrats (CVP), and could for the first time get a seat in the coalition that governs Switzerland.

The centre-left Socialists looked set to take second place with 16.5% of the votes, and the centre-right Liberals (FDP) to come in third with 15.2%.

If the two Green parties are able to overcome policy differences and unite, they would represent a potent political force.

As is usual in Switzerland, no single party is expected to secure a majority.

For decades, the seven-seat Federal Council has been dominated by the same four main parties: the SVP, the Social Democrats, the FDP liberals and the CVP, says the BBC’s Imogen Foulkes in Geneva.

The SVP, which is set to remain the largest party in parliament, has campaigned for over a decade on two key messages: restrictions on immigration and asylum seekers, and limiting non-EU member Switzerland’s ties with Brussels.

Green party poster in Berlin, May 2019

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How are Greens doing in Europe?

  • 74out of 751 seats in European Parliament

  • 20.5% of German vote in May 2019 Euro elections

  • 16%in Finnish European vote

  • 13.5%in French EU vote

  • 14%in Austrian election on 29 September

Source: EP/ORF

Climate change was the single most important issue in these elections.

All year, climate strikes have been taking place, culminating in a huge rally in Bern in September, with 100,000 people taking part.

The Swiss have only to look up to see the effects of climate change: the Alpine glaciers are melting, and rock and mud slides are threatening mountain communities, our correspondent says.

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Climate change could cause the biggest glacier in the Alps, the Aletsch in Switzerland, to vanish by the end of the century

But the election campaign was about more than just a rise in support for green parties.

A record 40% of candidates for the national council were women (as were more than a third of those standing for the second house, the chamber of states).

In June this year, hundreds of thousands of women across Switzerland took to the streets to call for equal pay and conditions, and an end to discrimination.

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Media captionSocialist MP Flavia Wasserfallen told Imogen Foulkes in June why women were taking to the streets