Parliament’s shift to the right, in figures

"Shifting right", "right turn": these were the headlines featured in the Swiss and international press in the wake of Sunday's parliamentary elections. The conservative right and centre right figured as the winners of the election, at the expense of political centrists and green parties. This is confirmed by the following graphs.

This content was published on October 22, 2015 minutes
Quang Duc-Nguyen,

We compared the positions of politicians elected to the House of Representatives with those from the previous parliament. To do this, we used data from, a political questionnaire to which 90% of the candidates responded. Based on the responses, parliamentarians were classified according to left vs. right (horizontal) and liberal vs. conservative (vertical).

Here's how the parliamentarians looked in 2011 and 2015 according to these two dimensions:

This chart shows the seven major parties in the House of Representatives. Together they occupy more than 96% of the 200 seats in the lower house. Each point corresponds to the position of a parliamentarian. The ellipses group the parliamentarians according to their political party. Note that the size of the ellipses do not indicate the strength of a party, but only the difference of opinions within it.

We see in this chart that the difference between left and right has widened with the new parliament. The ellipses representing the right-wing parties like the UDC or PLR and the centre-right (PDC) move to the right. The leftist parties are either unchanged or little changed. We also note that the profiles of those elected on the right in 2015 are more similar than in the past, which is reflected in the narrowing ellipses.

The graph below illustrates the House of Representatives as a whole has evolved to the right. To do this, we visualized the distribution* left-right of all parliamentarians**. The dotted vertical line shows the average of all national councilors in a left/right axis.

We see in this graph that in the last election, the centre's positions have been eroded, like those of the left, to the right’s benefit. Taking into account the average of all MPs with the vertical line, we see the turn to the right that the House of Representatives has taken.

Methodological Notes

Smartvote researchers have provided with the series of 35 questions that the House of Representatives responded to in 2011 and 2015. Smartvote calculated the position of each national councilor. For more information on the method used, see these two smartvote blog entries (in German): and 2509

*To help make it understandable, the terms "distribution

" and "frequency" were used to describe the second graph. Technically speaking, it is more specifically a function of probability density (y-axis = density). This nuance has no impact on the form and interpretation of the graph.$

**For parliamentarians did not respond to the smartvote questionnaire, the average position left / right of their party was used.

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