Swiss People’s Party

Published 24th September, 2011

German: Schweizerische Volkspartei, SVP
French: Union démocratique du centre, UDC

The Swiss People’s Party or Democratic Union of the Centre was founded in 1971 as the successor to the Farmers’, Traders’ and Citizens’ Party (BGB) (an agrarian party) and the Swiss Democratic Party which means that it can trace its roots back to 1867. It describes itself as right wing with an ideology centered on conservatism, economic liberalism and isolationism.

After the initial merger there was very litle change for the party. In the 1975 election they dropped from the 11.1% and 23 seats achieved by the BGB in 1973 to 9.1% and 21 seats.

In the five election between 1975 and 1995 they remained stubbornly on around 11% of the vote and between 23 and 25 seats in the 200 seat National Council of Switzerland (the lower house). They were the fourth largest party in the parliament throughout this period.

From 1995 onwards that all changed as the party went through structural and ideological changes; it opposed membership of the European Economic Area and European Union and expressed concern about immigration. Much of this was contributed to the leadership of Christoph Blocher.

In 1995 their vote rose to 14.9% and 29 seats. In 1999 they shot up to 22.5% of the vote and 44 seats, taking second place in parliament and in 2003 they rose again to 26.6% of the vote and 55 seats, taking first place in the lower house for the first time.

In 2007 they consolidated their first place position, taking 28.9% of the vote and 62 seats.

In 2008 a small group split off from the Swiss People’s Party and formed the Conservative Democratic Party, taking five National Councillors with them.

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