New party in canton Bern
The split in the rightwing Swiss People's Party widened on Saturday with the foundation of a new party by dissidents in canton Bern.
It is to be called the Conservative Democratic Party. Defence Minister Samuel Schmid has announced that he will join it.
At the founding conference, 225 people signed up and agreed on its statutes. The party leadership will now draw up a detailed policy programme.
The members are unhappy with the hardline policies of the national leadership of the People's Party. They say they represent the traditional values of the party.
The split in the People's Party between hardliners and moderates became evident earlier this year when the leadership accused Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf of working against party interests by accepting election in the place of the charismatic but controversial Christoph Blocher and called on her to resign from the party.
She refused to do so, and her local chapter in Canton Graubünden refused to expel her. Widmer-Schlumpf supporters in Graubünden formed their own new party on June 16.
People's Party dissidents in Canton Glarus are also expected to establish a new cantonal party.
A new national party will probably be set up by the autumn.
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