Across the world, the Covid pandemic and responses to it quickly became political and gave birth to new political movements. Politics in Switzerland followed the same path with new anti-system movements emerging from the disruption felt by the population.
However, recent elections in Switzerland show little support for these political movements born from pandemic discontent. The protests have not translated to political success in the cantons of Vaud, Nidwalden and Bern where there have been recent cantonal elections, reported RTS.
In Bern, the movement Stand up Switzerland put forward 69 candidates for seats in the canton’s government. However, vote percentages ranged from 0.1% to 3% without a single candidate being elected. Roland Gurtner, one of the candidates, voiced his disappointment while revealing that he’d hoped the party would win a few seats. Starting very late with little preparation time and zero cash we were at a serious disadvantage to established parties, said Gurtner.
In Vaud’s recent election the result was similar. The Liberty Alliance, a party that fought against Covid restrictions, won less than 1% of the vote. In Nidwalden, a recent cantonal vote yielded a similar result.
Pascal Sciarini, a political expert based in Geneva, puts part of the electoral failure of these movements down to timing. Switzerland has moved to a post pandemic phase with restrictions ending. The movement’s raison d’être has disappeared, he said. However, Sciarini thinks there is a more fundamental reason for the poor performance of these political movements. There are already numerous parties in Switzerland. To find support, new parties need a programme or ideas that no one else is defending, which is very difficult. Currently, the UDC/SVP, Switzerland’s largest party, already caters to many voters who are anti-system and anti-health measures.
Patrick Jetzer, one of the leaders of Stand up Switzerland in Zurich, is not about to give up. He thinks the year and a half before Switzerland’s federal elections will give the party long enough to build voter confidence. Jetzer was recently elected to the government of municipality Dübendorf.
At the same time, 1 April 2022, marks the end of Switzerland’s pandemic restrictions. There is now no obvious point of contention of a similar intensity to rally potential voters.