Why this Swiss election will go down in the history books

Women candidates from the Green Party celebrate their victories Keystone / Eddy Risch

From massive shifts in party power to a record proportion of women, here are the reasons why Sunday’s Swiss parliamentary elections can be called historic.

This content was published on October 21, 2019

A party has never won as many additional seats in an election as the left-wing Greens did on Sunday, with 17. The previous record was 15, set by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party in 1999.

The People’s Party lost 12 seats on Sunday, also a record – it’s the worst defeat in the history of the Swiss elections.

Sunday was the first time that so many seats - 58 - changed parties. In 2015, for example, only 30 seats changed. According to political analyst Claude Longchamp, following climate demonstrations External linkand the historic women's strikeExternal link in June, the Swiss party landscape is more volatile than ever before.

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In another first, 84 women were elected to the House of Representatives yesterday, bringing the proportion of women in the largest parliamentary chamber to a record 42%. Switzerland now has the 15th-highest proportion of womenExternal link in the House of Representatives worldwide. In Europe it ranks behind Belgium and Finland.

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The left-wing Social Democrats and the centrist Christian Democrats are weaker than they have ever been before, and the centre-right Radicals are only slightly stronger than their worst result in 2011.

The Greens and the Liberal Greens, with their 28 and 16 seats respectively, are at an all-time high. Together they won 21% of the electorate. By comparison, German’s Green Party won 20.5% in the recent European elections.

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However, there were no records set when it came to voter turnout – this year, just 45.1% of eligible voters took part, down from 48.5% in 2015.

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