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Switzerland: Right-wing populists strengthen hold after federal elections

A man casts his ballot during Swiss federal elections to elect a new Parliament, in Charmey, western Switzerland, on October 22, 2022.
A man casts his ballot during Swiss federal elections to elect a new Parliament, in Charmey, western Switzerland, on October 22, 2022. Copyright AFP
Copyright AFP
By Euronews with AP
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Climate change, rising health care costs and immigration were among the most important topics for voters as they went to the polls.

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The right-wing populist SVP party has consolidated its position as Switzerland's leading political party, winning almost 29% of the vote in Sunday's federal election. 

According to the final projections reported by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, SVP came ahead of the Socialists, the second-largest party in the lower house of parliament, who will get just over 17% of the vote. 

Meanwhile the Green party looks set to be the biggest loser in the election, dropping four percentage points to 9.2%.

The election of the 200-seat lower house, known as the National Council and the 46-seat Council of States, the upper house, will set the tone for Swiss policy as the rich Alpine country adapts its self-image as a “neutral” country outside the European Union.

It also comes as the nation grapples with issues like climate change, rising health care costs and migration.

Final ballots will be collected on Sunday after the vast majority of Swiss made their choices by mail-in voting.

The vote could indicate how another slice of Europe’s electorate is thinking about right-wing populist politics and the need to spend money and resources to fight global warming at a time of rising inflation that has pinched many pocketbooks - even in well-to-do Switzerland.

A new formation calling itself ‘The Centre’ - born of the fusion in 2021 of centre-right Christian Democrat and ‘Bourgeois Democrat’ parties - is making its debut in a parliamentary vote, and could together eclipse the free-market Liberal party as the third-largest party in the lower house.

Polls suggest the Swiss have three main preoccupations in mind: rising fees for the obligatory, free market-based health insurance system; climate change, which has eroded Switzerland’s numerous glaciers - and worries about migrants and immigration.

The parliamentary vote is one of two main ways that Switzerland's 8.5 million people guide their country. Another is through regular referendums - usually four times a year - on any number of policy decisions, which set guideposts that parliament must follow as it drafts and passes legislation.

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