Switzerland: Yet another populist paradise

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Abstract

Switzerland poses a significant challenge to the editors of this volume, as some of the country features that have often been seen as impediments to the growth of populism, and which are held to have distinguished Switzerland from its European neighbours, have evolved very considerably in the last few years.1 Basing itself on the definition of populism provided in the introduction to this book, this chapter analyses the structure and agency interplay which has facilitated the success of this ideology in the country.2 The chapter will, of course, discuss what is currently the largest western European populist party (in relation to national competitors), the Schweizerische Volkspartei/Union Démocratique du Centre (SVP/UDC — Swiss People’s party). The SVP/UDC deserves special attention as it has radically affected Swiss political life over the last decade, rapidly doubling its national vote share (and government delegation) to become the country’s largest party. Moreover, it has shown an impressive ability to take control of the national political agenda. The SVP/UDC has resorted to a rhetoric that is typical of populist movements across Europe and which has not been toned down, I will argue, even after the party’s assumption of greater governmental responsibilities. Although discussing the SVP/UDC is thus useful (indeed inevitable) in this context, this chapter’s main aim is to identify the reasons why populism has been so successful in Switzerland, rather than providing a full and comprehensive study of the SVP/UDC (or other Swiss populist movements), that readers can find elsewhere.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTwenty-First Century Populism
Subtitle of host publicationThe Spectre of Western European Democracy
EditorsDaniele Albertazzi, Duncan McDonnell
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2007

Keywords

  • Direct Democracy, European Economic Area, Federal Election, Popular Vote, Political Class

ASJC Scopus subject areas