Climate action in canton Glarus on March 26, 2022. Keystone / Christian Merz
Switzerland's environmentalist parties – the big winners in the 2019 national elections – appear to be losing ground ahead of the upcoming elections in October. Climate change nonetheless remains the main concern for Swiss voters, according to a new survey. This content was published on March 22, 2023 March 22, 2023 minutes
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Currently, no party has emerged as a clear winner for the upcoming parliamentary election on October 22. However, the Green Party may well be among the losers. According to the latest poll by the Sotomo research institute, the left-wing party faces a drop of 2.5 percentage points compared to the last national election in 2019 (see table below). While the poll indicates a decline for the Greens, it is still faring better than it did prior to the green waveexternal link seen in 2019.
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Support for the other green party, the centrist Liberal Green Party, is also waning but it cannot make up the losses experienced by the Green Party.
“The decline of the Green Party can be explained by a certain fall in climate-related political activity: the enthusiasm that was generated four years ago by the student-led climate strikes has subsided,” says Michael Hermann, director for the Sotomo research institute.
Despite a drop in interest, the climate crisis remains a top concern for Swiss voters. The Sotomo poll found that 42% of voters still consider climate change to be the biggest challenge facing Switzerland.
The left-wing Social Democratic Party has also managed to make its presence felt on the climate.“The Social Democrats have regained some of their voters who switched to the Greens in 2019,” says Hermann. Following a decline in voters in recent years, there are signs of a reversal. The poll indicates a one percentage point gain for the Social Democrats. This should allow the party to cement its position as the second-strongest political party in Switzerland.The migration issue gains importance
The right-wing Swiss Peoples Party also gained one percentage point in the poll, confirming its position as the strongest party among Swiss voters. Immigration, a key political issue for the People's Party, has moved up to become the second most important issue for Swiss voters this year.Election barometer
The SBC Election Barometer is an online poll by the Sotomo research institute in Zurich. It is the second poll ahead of the 2023 national elections.
It is based on valid data from 27,058 respondents. It was carried out between February 20 and March 5.
The margin of error is +/- 1.2% according to Sotomo. End of insertion
Switzerland is facing a sharp increase in asylum applications. Furthermore, tens of thousands of workers from European Union countries have moved to Switzerland for work following the post-pandemic economic recovery.
But these trends are unlikely to help give the People's Party the kind of record voter increase it experienced in 2015.“At the time, the debate over the mass immigration initiative, the Syrian refugee crisis, and the attack on Charlie Hebdo [magazine office in Paris] led to the issue of immigration overshadowing other topics. We are a long way from that,” notes Hermann.
Current labour shortages in Switzerland may explain the more positive attitude towards migrants. Unemployment and wage concerns are only big issues for 4% of the voters surveyed, according to the Sotomo poll. Another central election topic for the People's Party is its fight against wokeism. Only 11% of voters surveyed say it is an important issue.No upheavals in sight
Despite these changes, no party is likely to make major gains in the autumn elections, the institute found. Switzerland remains an island of stability, even if the numbers show a slight shift to the right.
The survey was conducted prior to the announcement of the government-backed takeover of Credit Suisse by its rival UBS. While the bank rescue is the subject of much public debate, it is unlikely to become a major concern for the typical Swiss voter.“It does not have the emotional potential to alter the political balance,” says Sarah Bütikofer, a political scientist from the Sotomo research institute.
Parties on the left could possibly benefit from the banking crisis, say experts.“The Social Democrats could take advantage of the situation and take a stance on the issue at the expense of the parties on the right and of the Green parties,” says Hermann.