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Will conservative party get a second seat in the cabinet?

The conservative Swiss People's Party is making a strong showing in polls ahead of parliamentary elections in October. There is speculation that the party could force an end to the traditional rule of how many cabinet ministers a party is entitled to.

This content was published on August 20, 1999 - 13:41

The conservative Swiss People's Party (SVP) is making a strong showing in polls ahead of parliamentary elections in October. There is speculation that the party could force an end to the traditional rule of how many cabinet ministers a party is entitled to.

Support for the People's Party comes at the expense of the traditionally stronger conservative Christian Democrats and centre-right Radical Party.

An opinion poll by the Swiss GfS research institute showed the SVP's popularity has risen 6.1 percentage points since the last parliamentary elections in 1995 to stand at 21 percent in early August.

The increase puts the SVP in second place behind the Social Democrats, who were up 1.2 percentage points at 23 percent.

Political analysts said the development did not bode well for the traditional Swiss policy of government by consensus, saying the trend pointed to increased political polarisation.

Some analysts said the SVP's gains could rattle the so-called "magic formula", a 40-year-old coalition structure giving all the big parties two cabinet seats except for the SVP, which has only one.

While calls for a rethink of the "magic formula" emerge on occasion, there has so far been no serious attempt to shake it up since the structure was introduced in 1959 to balance the parties as well as Swiss regions and language groups.

Analysts said this might change if the SVP retained its current popularity come the elections on October 24.

From staff and wire reports.

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