- Title: Looming climate risks boost Greens in Swiss election
- Date: 18th October 2019
- Summary: BERN, SWITZERLAND (RECENT - SEPTEMBER 19, 2019) (REUTERS) PEOPLE IN STREETS WITH SWISS FEDERAL PALACE IN BACKGROUND MARKET STALLS SWISS FEDERAL PALACE WITH SWISS FLAG FLYING POLITICAL SCIENTIST AT THE UNIVERSITY OF GENEVA, PASCAL SCIARINI, LOOKING AT CAMPAIGN POSTERS (SOUNDBITE) (French) POLITICAL SCIENTIST AT THE UNIVERSITY OF GENEVA, PASCAL SCIARINI, SAYING: "I think there is a deep and durable change in people's concerns and a new general awareness of the climate emergency. And what is new, at least in Switzerland, is the youth mobilization. We saw it during spring with youth demonstrations for climate, which is really an unprecedented event in Swiss politics. Now, whether or not it's really going to materialize during the election remains to be seen because young people vote very little in Switzerland and we have difficulty measuring their participation in surveys, so there is a zone of uncertainty. But it could be that the gaining of the Greens is more significant than the 3 or 3.5 percent predicted, or it could be less if the young people do not mobilise and do not vote." LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND (RECENT - SEPTEMBER 27, 2019) (REUTERS) YOUNG PEOPLE PROTESTING AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE SIGN READING (French) "OUR PLANET IS IN DANGER, WE HAVE TO SAVE IT" YOUNG PEOPLE MARCHING BERN, SWITZERLAND (OCTOBER 16, 2019) (REUTERS) BERN'S UNIVERSITY BUILDING STUDENTS SITTING ON STAIRS AT UNIVERSITY BUILDING'S ENTRANCE (SOUNDBITE) (English) STUDENT AT BERN'S UNIVERSITY, CAMILLE SAVARY, SAYING: "I will vote and I will vote, I think half Green and half SP (Socialist Party). And why? I did this the three past times too and I think, especially in the moment, I will tend a little bit more to the Greens, also because of what is happening with the protests and so, yes, I am pretty convinced that this is the right thing to do." BERN, SWITZERLAND (RECENT - SEPTEMBER 19, 2019) (REUTERS) PEOPLE SITTING ON BENCH WITH CAMPAIGN POSTERS IN BACKGROUND
- Embargoed: 1st November 2019 07:29
- Keywords: GLP Green Liberals SVP voters environment polls Swiss People's Party climate change parliamentary election Socialists Green Party SP Switzerland
- Location: BERN, LAUSANNE, LENK IM SIMMENTAL & PLEINE MORTE GLACIER, SWITZERLAND
- City: BERN, LAUSANNE, LENK IM SIMMENTAL & PLEINE MORTE GLACIER, SWITZERLAND
- Country: Switzerland
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA001B1MISSN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The concerns and consequences of climate change could lead to gains for the environmentalist Greens of Switzerland polls showed ahead of a parliamentary election on Sunday (October 20), vaulting them into the mix for a seat in the grand coalition that has governed the conservative nation for decades.
A September Tamedia poll showed the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP), which won record seats in 2015 amid Europe's refugee crisis, will dip 1.5 points while the Green Party's share will rise more than 3 points to 10.2% of the vote.
The smaller, more centrist Green Liberal Party (GLP) is also expected to advance, bringing their combined strength to a theoretical 17.4%.
That would place them collectively third behind the SVP and the centre-left Socialists (SP), ahead of the centre-right Liberals (FDP), who have two of seven seats on the Federal Council.
"There is a deep and durable change in people's concerns and a new general awareness of the climate emergency," said Pascal Sciarini, a political scientist at the University of Geneva.
Tens of thousands, mostly students, have marched to demand climate action even though big protests are rare. Switzerland's direct democracy system makes referenda the normal channel for venting opposition to the status quo.
Yet, it is unclear whether action in the street can convert into votes. Swiss Election Study data show that fewer than a third of 18-24 year olds took part in 2015. National turnout was only 49 percent.
Even if the Greens do not get a seat, they could help push through legislation such as a carbon law rejected by parliament last year that is again under consideration.
But analysts caution against expecting too radical a shift. Green parties do not have a monopoly on ecological issues and many voters in the rural SVP heartland are loyal, like in the village of Lenk where voters show little sign of changing their minds.
Perched nearly 2,000 meters above the Swiss ski village of Lenk, a lake has emerged as the Plaine Morte glacier melts. When it burst it sent billions of litres of water gushing into the valley below and prompted a precautionary evacuation last July.
"We've heard in polls that the 'Green wave' is coming'. I think, clearly, the people of Lenk, in general those in the mountains, won't be so influenced by this," Lenk mayor Rene Mueller said.
The Greens' success could hit all major parties, including the SVP, whose President Albert Rosti has called climate change a "eco-socialist scam against the middle class".
(Production: Cecile Mantovani, Marina Depetris and Denis Balibouse)
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