Far right seen leading as Swiss parties push for last votes

21st October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Swiss political parties are making their final campaign push for Sunday's elections with the far-right Swiss People's Party poised to poll a record 30 percent on the back of their aggressive anti-immigrant platform.

According to the final opinion polls before the elections, the SVP is expected to lead by a wide margin, with 29.3 percent of people surveyed expressing support for the party.

The Socialist Party had the next highest level of support, with 19.9 percent.

"As a party, we are impatient," said Silvia Baer, deputy secretary-general of the SVP, saying that "the frustration is great among the population".

"Until noon on Sunday, we will do everything to make the last voters go to the polls," she said.

Some five million people are eligible to pick the 246 parliamentarians to represent them among a record number of candidates -- 3,458.

But even if politicians are still seeking to sway voters by distributing roses or small souvenirs, most Swiss voters have already made up their minds, with many having already voted by post.

In the canton of Geneva, for instance, 82,700 people have voted, corresponding to a rate of 34.45 percent, authorities said.

With the overall participation rate not expected to exceed 49 percent, this means that most have already cast their votes.

At the moment, it appears that the SVP, whose campaign spending made up 70 percent of the total amount put in by parties for this year's election, has managed to appeal most to voters with their anti-immigration campaign.

Posters depicting the legs of men wearing suits marching across the Swiss flag with the slogan "That's enough. Stop mass immigration!" have been plastered across the country's main train stations and town centres.

Just ahead of the polls, the party claimed to have gathered enough support to push for a referendum to "stop mass immigration". If adopted, it could require Switzerland to review its free movement of people treaty with the European Union.

"This result proves that the population considers unlimited immigration to be a serious problem and it wants to give back Switzerland the means to control immigration," said the party.

According to official data, one in five (22.9 percent) inhabitants here is a foreigner.

While the SVP's campaign sparked less controversy this year than during the 2007 elections, when its posters of three white sheep kicking a black sheep off the Swiss flag prompted the UN expert on racism to call for its withdrawal, it has come under investigations over some of its advertising.

Zurich prosecutors have said they are investigating if the party flouted racial discrimination rules through their newspaper advertising which details crimes committed by two Kosovars.

Prosecutors received the criminal complaint a week ago from lawyers claiming that the advertising discriminated against an entire ethnic group.

The advert titled "Kosovars slash the Swiss" described an incident in August 15, 2011 in Interlaken.

The SVP claimed that the advert merely recounted a real situation.

© 2011 AFP

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