On 22 October, the Swiss went to the polls to elect the National Council, the lower house of the Federal Assembly. The proportional vote resulted in a major victory for the Swiss People’s Party (SVP, nationalist right), which won 28.55 percent of the vote, taking 62 of the 200 council seats. This puts the party more than ten points ahead of the Socialist Party (SP, left, 17.96 percent, 41 seats), which remains the country’s second largest political force. The vote resulted in disappointment for the Greens, who lost 5 seats, keeping 23. The same day also saw the first round of elections for the Council of States, the upper house of the Swiss parliament.
The SVP’s victory followed a long election campaign that was criticised by some observers for its authoritarian and caricaturish overtones, with the self-described “democratic union of the centre” focusing on their favourite theme – immigration. The ballot was also marked by a high level of abstention, with a turnout of just 46.6% – a lack of interest explained, for some, by the very nature of the Swiss system, which is oriented towards consensus and the blurring of ideological boundaries.
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