Switzerland: Less Polarized, More Fragmented

Switzerland’s political landscape after the elections: less polarized but more fragmented. Photo: twicepix/flickr

Last Sunday’s elections unexpectedly bucked the trend of growing polarization in the Swiss political landscape. All major established parties lost support, while two new center parties – the Liberal Greens and the Conservative Democrats – were the big winners.

But, to many, the biggest surprise was the weak showing of the Swiss People’s Party, the SVP. For two decades, the proportion of the electorate voting for the anti-immigration, anti-European party had steadily increased. With a number of controversial popular initiatives and xenophobic campaigns (most famously the ‘black sheep‘ campaign, which the UN denounced as racist), the party mobilized voters and more than doubled its percentage between 1991 and 2007.