Four parties stand out ahead of national elections

Will the party continue for the Greens after the elections to the Swiss parliament? The environmentalists had reason to celebrate after they won more than twice as many seats in the parliamentary elections in Lucerne last month. Keystone/Urs Flüeler

Four political parties stand a good chance of making gains in October’s parliamentary elections if the results in the cantonal elections over the past four years are taken as a yardstick. We take a closer look at the local success of the Greens, the Radical-Liberals, the Social Democrats and the Liberal Greens.

This content was published on April 9, 2019 - 17:17
Alexandra Kohler (graphics) and Renat Kuenzi (text),

Political scientists have predicted that elections to the Swiss parliamentExternal link – the House of Representatives and most seats in the Senate – could produce a slight shift to the left.

It is often said that the elections to the 26 cantonal parliaments – taking place during a four-year term of the national parliament – are an indication of who will be the winners and losers in the national elections, scheduled for October 20.

Building on lessons from local polls, party strategists and election campaigners will try to apply successful tactics in other regions.

In total 245 of the 246 seats are up for grabs – only the small canton of Appenzell Outer Rhodes decides on its member in the Senate in an open-air assembly next April.

Of the 12 parties currently represented in the Swiss parliament, the Greens, the Social Democrats (both left-wing) and the Radical-Liberals as well as the Liberal Greens (considered centre-right and centrist respectively) emerged as winners in cantonal elections since 2015.

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The following charts give you an overview of the gains and losses of these four parties in the cantons. Note: The four charts show the best cantonal results at the top.

Green Party

The environmentalist party has made major gains in cantons with big cities across Switzerland. Canton Bern is the exception. However, elections in the canton took place before climate change protests swept the country.

The Greens were particularly successful in western Switzerland with the most surprising results found in Valais. The win by the Greens was viewed as a major political upset as voters in the mountain canton have typically given environmentalists the cold shoulder.

The Greens only suffered losses in three cantons across Switzerland and they remained stable in rural regions.

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Radical-Liberal Party

The party, which traditionally has close ties with the business community, was most successful in Vaud and Neuchâtel – two cantons in French-speaking western Switzerland. The centre-right party made slight gains in 11 cantons and remained stable in three others.

The losses in nine cantons were limited. There was no outright electoral disaster.

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Social Democratic Party

Most gains were made in cantons in central, eastern and northern Switzerland, with the biggest success was recorded in canton Bern.

In three cantons the party was able to maintain the same number of seats in parliament.

The losses for the party were only marginal in nine cantons, notably in French-speaking Switzerland where some of their supporters chose the Greens instead. The only exception was canton Geneva, where the Social Democrats won ground.

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Liberal Green Party

The centrist party, which split off from the Greens more than a decade ago, has its stronghold in Zurich. It also made gains in central, northern and eastern Switzerland. There was no change in seven cantons and slight losses in four cantons. The biggest defeat was recorded in parliamentary elections in canton St Gallen.

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Follow Renat KuenziExternal link and Alexandra KohlerExternal link on Twitter.

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