Swiss populist right set to win third of parliament seats: media

18th October 2015, Comments 0 comments

Switzerland's largest party, the populist rightwing anti-immigrant Swiss People's Party, is set for a record win in Sunday's parliamentary election, with media projecting it will take a third of seats in the lower house.

Based on final vote counts in half of Switzerland's 26 cantons, and partial counts in 11 others, the ATS news agency projected the party would take 11 additional seats in parliament.

That would give it 64 of the 200 seats in the lower house, beating its previous record high of 62 seats after the 2007 election.

Along with advances made by the centre-right Liberal Party, Switzerland's third largest party, SVP's gains should tip the scale in parliament from the centre-left towards a centre-right majority.

Opinion polls had hinted SVP would gain ground in the elections amid concerns over migration and asylum rules, but few had predicted such a dramatic upswing.

Among the parliamentarians already sure to take a seat was Magdalena Martullo-Blocher in Graubunden.

She is the daughter of Switzerland's perhaps most controversial politician Christoph Blocher, a SVP vice president who served in government from 2004-2007 before being pushed out over his extreme positions and confrontational style.

The expected shift comes as surging numbers of migrants and refugees moving through Europe have heightened the focus on the issue in Switzerland, even though the wealthy Alpine nation is yet to be significantly affected by the crisis.

"One theme has unfortunately been very dominant during the campaign," Rebecca Ruiz, a candidate for the Socialists, Switzerland's second largest party, told the RTS broadcaster, lamenting that "people voted out of fear."

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© 2015 AFP

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