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Racism dominates election campaign
THE RESULTS of the recent general election in Switzerland reflect a highly polarised society, with the far-right Swiss People's Party (SVP) securing a 29% vote and 62 seats in the 200 seat assembly and the left-leaning Greens recording 9.6% and 20 seats, the largest percentage gain of any party. The Greens also gained their first ever member of the 48-seat senate.
The main losers were the Social Democrats, traditionally the main workers' party. Their share of the vote slumped from 23% to 19%. Likewise the pro-big business Radical Party shed five seats winning just 15.9% of the vote. There were small gains for the right-wing Christian Democrats, the junior partner in the four-party coalition government which also consists of the Social Democrats, the Radical Democrats and the Swiss People's Party.
The election was dominated by the issue of immigration, with the SVP running an overtly racist and xenophobic campaign. The SVP produced a notoriously racist election poster showing a cartoon of three white sheep kicking a black sheep off the Swiss national flag. One of its election policies was to pledge to deport the entire family of any immigrant worker if a child violated the law.
The 1.6 million foreigners in Switzerland are vital for the economy of the country but gaining Swiss nationality for a foreigner is notoriously complicated, taking years and having to clear many administrative hurdles.
The SVP has been led for 30 years by Chistoph Blocher whose family fortune from chemicals and plastics is worth an estimated $2.6 billion. In addition to anti-immigrant policies and 'being tough on law and order' the SVP wants tax cuts paid for by cuts in government spending on public services.
Prior to the election a 10,000-strong election rally of the SVP on 6 October was disrupted by a left-wing counter-demonstration. Police fired tear-gas and rubber bullets at the left-wingers.
But as the election results show, denying a platform for the far-right is insufficient to halt their popularity. What is urgently needed to cut across the SVP is a new political party of the left that can offer the working class a fighting alternative to the capitalist parties and the profit system they represent.
Unfortunately the Greens cannot fill this political vacuum. Their record elsewhere in Europe, such as in Germany, has been to provide the discredited social-democratic parties with a fake left cover in governing anti-working–class coalitions.
In fact the leadership of the Swiss Green party expressed disappointment that the party narrowly failed to reach the 10% threshold for a Cabinet post in the governing coalition.
In The Socialist 1 November 2007:
Environment and socialism
Workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
National Shop Stewards Network
Workplace news and analysis