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Swiss politics goes Green with a capital G

(EurActiv, 25 Oct 2019) The surge in support for Green parties in the Swiss elections suggests that the Alpine country is shying away from right-wing populism and euroscepticism, writes Denis MacShane.

Denis MacShane is a former Minister of Europe. He is a member of the OMFIF National Advisory Council. 

The Swiss election to their 200 strong federal parliament has seen the biggest win for green politics ever in Switzerland and a significant defeat for anti-EU, and anti-immigrant political forces.

The traditional parties close to Swiss business and banking like the Liberals, and Christian democrats are, like Swiss glaciers, getting slowly smaller as the new divide in the Alpine country is between opposing variations of populism.

The right-wing Swiss nationalist populists (the Swiss Peoples’ Party, SVP) have campaigned for a quarter of a century against Europe and above all against immigration of any sort – from Europe, from Muslim regions of the world, and from the conflict zones of North Africa and the Middle East caused by western interventions in Iraq, Libya and Syria.

But they now face the new green populists of two Swiss green parties – the Swiss Green party, which is more radical and leftist and the Green Liberal party which is more centrist and seeks to work with business rather than just attack the modern economy.

As elsewhere in Europe, the right-wing racist populism associated with Donald Trump and his European emissary, Steve Bannon, is not gaining ground despite claims by academics and commentators in 2018 that the hard anti-EU were going to take over European politics in the model of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage.

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EurActiv, 25 Oct 2019: Swiss politics goes Green with a capital G