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From The Socialist newspaper, 1 November 2007

Switzerland:

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.

Simon Carter

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.

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In The Socialist 1 November 2007:

NHS: Kick big business out!

Targets take their toll on cleaners

Feature: NHS - Time to fight for a national strike

Editorial: NHS campaigning - national strategy needed


Environment and socialism

System change to stop climate change


Workplace news and analysis

CWU executive member calls for a 'no' vote

Unison local government ballot result ignored


Socialism 2007

Socialism 2007

Socialism 2007 web pages


Socialist Party news and analysis

Countering the race to the bottom

Respect in crisis - what lessons for socialists?


Asylum

The socialist interview


International socialist news and analysis

Nigeria: Day of action protest march in Osogbo

Switzerland: Racism dominates election campaign

Poland: Right-wing populist government defeated


National Shop Stewards Network

Wales shop stewards' network conference

London and South East regional conference


Workplace news and analysis

Bolton care workers' dispute: Workers' determination yields first signs of success

Vote Martin Powell-Davies for NUT vice president

Journalists: Fight low pay and long hours


 

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