Record number of political hopefuls to try their luck

Parliament building in Bern: 4,645 candidates are hoping to make it their office after October 20 elections. Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

A record number of candidates will run for election to the Swiss parliament on October 20 next, including more young people and more women.

This content was published on September 30, 2019

The numbers released on MondayExternal link by the Federal Statistics Office show that a total of 511 lists have been registered for this year’s elections to Switzerland’s bigger chamber, the House of Representatives – a 21% increase compared to 2015.

Under the Swiss system, political parties put forward lists, often thematically-organised, which voters then choose entirely or in part (it’s possible to strike a candidate off a list, for example).

A rise in the number of lists was registered in all cantons with a proportional representation system apart from Neuchâtel and Zurich. Valais, with 40, overtakes Zurich as the region with most.

The Christian Democrats are the party putting forward most lists, with 77 across the country.

New faces

Thematically and demographically, the lists notably include a 13% rise in the number of “youth” lists, which stand at 166. At the other end of the spectrum, the number of “old” lists, albeit rare, rises from 12 to 23 compared to 2015. (Note that the definition of young and old here is left up to parties, rather than federal rules).

Women’s participation, often viewed as low in Switzerland, also received a boost in a year that saw massive mobilisation for the women’s strike in June as well as the selection of two female members to government last December.

Some 1,873 women, or 40.3% of all candidates, are standing for election to the House of Representatives, an institution where less than a third of seats are currently female.

Female candidates have increased across all parties apart from the centre-right Conservative Democrats, while among the leftwing Social Democrats and Greens, women outnumber men on election lists.

According to the most recent election poll carried out on behalf of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation – swissinfo’s parent company – the rightwing People’s Party look set to remain the biggest party in the country, albeit losing a couple of percentage points. Green groups are predicted to ride the current environmental wave to pick up seats.

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