Another student guest blog, this one on the Swiss party system.
The country of Switzerland is a PR state, and as a result, has a multitude of parties within office. Within the recent (2011) election for the National Council, the lower house of Swiss Parliament, the 200 seats were divvied up amongst a total of eleven parties.
As seen in Figure 1, those who were able to gain five or more seats were the: Swiss Peoples Party (SVP/UDC), the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland (SP/PS), the Radical-Democratic Party (FDP/PRD), Christian-Democratic People’s Party (CVP/PDC), Green Party (GPS/PES), Liberal Green Party (GLP/PVL) and the Conservative Democratic Party (BDP/PDB).
The Swiss Peoples Party, receiving the greatest number of seats within the election, represents the party family of right-wing conservatives. They ultimately received 26.6% of all votes (54 seats) within the 2011 election for the National Council, and have emerged as the strongest party within the last decade as they have continued to receive the most seats in the National Council.
The Social Democratic Party of Switzerland, representing the Socialist party, received 46 seats in the 2011 election, and stands at the second most powerful party in Switzerland. They received 18.7% of the votes within the Cantons in the 2011 election, and have proved themselves as one of the strongest parties throughout their existence of over a century.
Next, the Radical-Democratic Party (FDP) has the greatest number of members amongst the parties, currently standing at 130,000. Despite the fact that this party holds the greatest number of members, they received the third highest percentage of votes (15.1%), entitling this party to 30 seats within the National Council. Aligned with the Liberals Party Family, they have a center-right political position.
The Christian-Democratic People’s Party received the fourth highest percentage of votes within the last election, giving them 28 seats from their 12.3% of total votes. This party is center-focused, remaining fairly neutral between state and market issues. This party was established in 1912, and thus, has an established and long-standing reputation for party behavior and beliefs. As implied by their name, they are associated with the Christian Democrats party family.
The Green Party of Switzerland associates itself with the Greens (New Left) party family. Similar to the Socialist party, the Green Party hosts a strong-left political positioning. Capturing the vote from the left wing liberals within the country, the Green Party was able to gain 8.4% of total votes. This percentage allowed them to gain 15 seats in the National Council.
Another party associating itself with the Green (New Left) party family is the Green Liberal Party of Switzerland. This party takes a less radical approach towards efforts on integration and state solutions over the market, but rather, is more centralized in its political philosophy. The Green Liberal Party received 5.4% of the votes, through which they attained 12 seats on the National Council.
The last party receiving more than 5 seats on the National Council is the Conservative Democratic Party. With 5.4% of the total votes, the Conservative Democrats received 9 seats in parliament. This party holds a centralized political position, and is affiliated with Conservatives Political Family.
The elected parties of the Switzerland National Council represent the full range of the political positioning spectrum. As shown in Figure 2, the parties most prominent of left-wing influence and party belief are the Socialist Party and the Greens. These two parties hold 21% of the national vote, but are balanced by the conservative viewpoints of the Christian Democratic People’s Party and the Swiss Peoples party. These conservative parties hold a total of 38.9% of total Swiss votes, and allude to conservative political majority within the country. With the younger demographic of voters emerging into the electoral process, the left-wing focused political parties are gaining strength relative to their conservative counterparts. Due to this shifting of voter interests, the Socialist Party gained an additional three seats over their previous terms election, while the conservative based Swiss People’s Party lost eight seats from the last election. The political spectrum is balanced in terms of party representation, but the political preference of the Swiss voters continues to be skewed towards conservatism.
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“Christlichdemokratische Volkspartei.” Christian Democratic Peoples Party. CDP, n.d. Web. 5 Mar. 2012. <http://www.cvp.ch/>.
“Green Liberal Party Switzerland.” Grunliberale. GLP, n.d. Web. 5 Mar. 2012. <http://www.grunliberale.ch/>.
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“Sozialdemokratische Partei der Schweiz.” SP Schweiz. Social Democratic Party of Switzerland, n.d. Web. 4 Mar. 2012. <http://www.sp-ps.ch/>.
“Switzerland.” Parties and Elections in Europe. Wolfram Nordsieck, n.d. Web. 5 Mar. 2012. <http://www.parties-and-elections.de/switzerland.html>.
“The Liberals.” FDP:The Liberals. FDP, n.d. Web. 5 Mar. 2012. <http://www.fdp.ch/>.