Electoral posters of two UDC candidates before the legislative elections, September 19, 2023 near Kerzers, Switzerland © AFP – Fabrice COFFRINI
The Center and the Liberal-Radicals (PLR) are fighting for third place, at 14.6% of the vote. Far from their electoral surge of 2019, the Greens have fallen to just over 9% and the Vert'liberals to around 7%.
“We have a very clear progression from the UDC to the extreme right. It will be more difficult to fight for purchasing power, for equality and for climate policy,” Cédric Wermuth, co-president of the Socialist Party, commented to AFP.
Among the Greens, the observation is bitter.
“We have a very strong breakthrough from the far right of the UDC,” observed Lisa Mazzone, outgoing senator of the Greens, stressing that the elections were held in “a harsh context, of violence, of fear”.
“There are a lot of wars going on and there is a withdrawal of identity,” added the vice-president of the Greens, Nicolas Walder, on Swiss public television RTS.
– “strict neutrality” –
The UDC campaigned around the defense of Switzerland's “strict neutrality”, strongly criticizing Bern's alignment with the sanctions taken by the EU after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
But the party above all focused its campaign around its favorite theme, the fight against “mass immigration”, which it accuses of being at the origin of crime, the explosion of social costs or even of the increase in electricity consumption.
With today's result, “we received a very clear mandate from the Swiss population, which is to put on the table issues that are important to them such as illegal immigration (…) and a secure energy supply” , reacted the president of the UDC, Marco Chiesa, to the RTS.
Electoral posters before the legislative elections in Switzerland, September 29, 2023 near Aarberg © AFP – Fabrice COFFRINI
During the campaign, the party was accused of flirting with the far right, but the UDC's speech continues to appeal to the Swiss, whose country, one of the richest in the world, does not experience massive arrivals of migrants.
The UDC had set itself the objective of recovering the approximately 100,000 voters lost four years ago, when the green wave – driven by youth demonstrations – boosted the environmentalist bloc.
The bet seems to have paid off, since the result is close to their historic score of 29.4% reached in 2015, in the midst of the European migration crisis.
This new success seems to be linked, explains Sean Müller, of the Institute of Political Studies at the University of Lausanne, to greater participation in the campaigns, in a country where participation is around the 45%.
On December 13, parliamentarians will designate the seven members of the Federal Council (government), within which the first four parties share the seven ministerial portfolios.
All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2023) Agence France-Presse