Second round of Swiss vote confirms setback for far-right

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The second round of Swiss legislative elections Sunday dealt another blow to the far-right SVP, results showed, with smaller and moderate parties like the Green Liberals once again the beneficiaries.

The biggest political party in Switzerland saw its president and father figure both fail as the five seats which were too close to be decided in last month's first-round vote went back to the voters.

This round of voting covered Zurich, the most populous canton in the confederation, as well as St-Gall, Argovie, Uri and Schwytz, representing the last six seats to be filled in the upper house, the Council of states.

The SVP, opposed to all moves towards European Union membership, ran a campaign in which its stance against immigration was a central plank.

It lost ground in four of the five cantons, winning only the central seat of Schwytz, the ATS news agency reported.

The party's president Toni Brunner was beaten in St-Gall by socialist Paul Rechsteiner.

In Zurich, the SVP's father figure Christoph Blocher lost to the Green Liberals and the centre right Radical Free Democratic Party.

The SVP has already fared badly in the larger first round of voting last month.

The party was returned as the biggest political party in Switzerland, although it ceded ground to the breakaway party BDP, as well as the Green Liberals.

Since the 1950s, the seven government ministerial posts have been allotted to the country's four biggest political parties -- two seats each for the centre-right Radicals, Christian Democrats and the Socialists, with the remaining portfolio going to the SVP.

Most other major parties represented in the cabinet also saw a drop in support at the polls.

But all of these other key parties have said that they would not cede their cabinet seats.

The SVP won 25.9 percent support in the first round, down from 28.9 at the last elections in 2007.

The Socialist Party obtained 18.1 percent, the Radicals 15.3 percent, while the Christian Democrats got 13.1 percent.

The next government will be elected by parliament on December 14, to face a difficult economic situation

While Switzerland is relatively cushioned against the kind of debt problems that have beset eurozone nations it is suffering from the ricochet.

The Swiss economy is highly dependent on exports, which are suffering as demand drops in Europe.

This trend is exacerbated by the relative strength of the Swiss franc.

© 2011 AFP

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