After the Defeat of the Greens in Switzerland, What Next?
The general elections in Switzerland on Oct. 22 delivered a clear win to the People’s Party (SPP) and a defeat to the Greens (GPS and GLP). The SPP, already the largest party, increased its score by 3% to 28.6%, gaining 9 seats in the lower house (National Council); the Green Party lost 3.8% sinking to 9.4%, and the Green Liberal Party was down 0.6% to 7.2%. Together, the two latter lost 11 seats. The final results for the upper house, the Council of States, are not yet known, as several runoffs are scheduled for November.
The composition of the federal government, however, will not change, as the four largest parties make up the seven-member cabinet. The SPP, although the largest, has two members, as do the Socialist Party and the Liberals. The Center (Christian Democrats) has one. That said, the federal government will have to acknowledge the political signal sent by the voters: a clear rejection of climate policies and an endorsement of the SPP proposals on migration and neutrality issues.
The latter is of strategic importance. The SPP campaigned against the government decision to abandon the country’s traditional neutrality and endorse EU sanctions against Russia last year. In reality, giving up neutrality was just the last stage of a creeping process in which Switzerland’s sovereignty has been eroded, starting with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the emergence of globalization. The country’s financial sector was increasingly integrated into the Wall Street and City of London-dominated financial casino, and when the 2008 financial crisis broke out, it became clear that the Swiss Government and Parliament could not take any independent action corresponding to national interest, but had to obey orders coming from the outside, under the “Too Big to Fail” dictate.
In that context, the betrayal of neutrality in foreign policy was only a formality. Nevertheless, the decision to join the EU sanctions on Russia, under the pretext of the Ukraine war, had a bombshell effect on Swiss patriots. By de facto supporting one side in the war, Switzerland gave up the moral status and the prestige which has allowed it to be a forum for peace and other negotiations in modern times. Earlier this year, the SPP began organizing for a popular referendum to re-establish Swiss neutrality and enshrine it in the Constitution. The general elections gave a clear political boost to that demand.
The other issue at stake in the immediate future, is whether Switzerland will continue to rescue American megabanks with taxpayer money, as it did in 2008 with the bailout of UBS and this year again with Credit Suisse (cf. SAS 12-16/23). The balance of power in Parliament and in the government has not (yet) changed on this issue. Although a coalition of SPP, SP and Greens in the National Council would have enough votes to pass a reform to separate commercial banks from investment banks, and let the latter fail if they go bankrupt, it would be difficult to reach a majority in the Council of States.