The greens make a tectonic shift in Switzerland

The Green Party and the Green Liberal Party have made historic gains in Switzerland's parliamentary elections. The national conservative SVP remains the strongest party but lost four percentage points. Commentators explain the reasons for the green parties' success and describe the challenges that lie ahead for these now stronger parties.

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Blick (CH) /

Climate change is making Swiss rethink choices

The daily newspaper Blick calls the election results historic:

“It's true, a Green wave was expected. But what came was a Green tidal wave .... Being Green has become a lifestyle. Being Green is in. But not all Greens are alike: In fact, the sole thing that the Green Party and the Green Liberal Party have in common is the 'Green' in their name. Otherwise, they are as far apart as [the social democratic] SP and [the liberal Swiss] FDP. ... Green Party voters have quite a different view of the world than Green Liberal voters. But they do share a common demand: Politicians should take climate change seriously and take action. ... For decades, Switzerland has stood for unwavering stability with at most mild fluctuations in voters' choices. Perhaps we are simply on the verge of becoming a normal country.”

Zeit Online (DE) /

Melting glaciers can no longer be ignored

Zeit Online explains why the success of the greens really comes as no surprise:

“After all, Switzerland is disproportionately affected by climate change. Since the mid-19th century, the average annual temperature in this country has already increased by 2 degrees celsius. And while hot summers and record droughts are only now making climate change visible in Germany, those who live in the Swiss Alps have been witnessing its effects for decades. The melting glaciers had barely translated into political successes until now. The loss of their eternal ice had left the Swiss relatively cold. Today, in the year 2019, this has changed.”

Le Courrier (CH) /

Dangers of resting on their laurels

The clear gains for green parties won't make a real impact on day-to-day political life in Switzerland, laments Le Courrier:

“The SVP remains the strongest force in Switzerland. Blocher's clique will just have a little less leeway. ... This social movement will have to continue to push through its projects by expanding its power at the grass-roots level. There will be no more blocking majority in the parliament. This is huge, yet far from enough. The expectations - especially those of young people - are immense. Disappointing them will open the door to political frustration that will have immediate consequences, just as the failure of socialism in France and Germany has had.”