Swiss environmentalists make electoral breakthrough

Greens overtake Christian Democrats to become fourth-strongest party in parliament

Green Party leader Regula Rytz:  ‘I’m completely overwhelmed.’

Green Party leader Regula Rytz: ‘I’m completely overwhelmed.’

 

Switzerland’s environmentalists achieved a historic result in Sunday’s parliamentary election with the chance of a seat in government, while the anti-immigrant party was dealt a setback.

The Greens overtook the Christian Democrats to become the fourth-strongest party in parliament’s 200-member lower house. And the Green Liberal Party (GLP) also increased its share of the vote, meaning the two now control over a quarter of the chamber.

Despite clinching roughly 26 per cent of the ballots, the eurosceptic Swiss People’s Party (SVP) was set to lose 11 seats, according to state broadcaster SRF, with voters swayed by environmental concerns rather than promises to clamp down on immigration.

Melting glaciers

Polls had predicted an environmentalist victory and their success is a trend evident across Europe in a year of extreme summer heat and melting Alpine glaciers.

“I’m completely overwhelmed. It’s a very strong shift that we didn’t anticipate like this,” said Green leader Regula Rytz on SRF television.

The environmentalists’ strong showing is likely to intensify calls for a Green minister in Switzerland’s multiparty government, which will be chosen by the newly formed legislature in several weeks’ time. – Bloomberg