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It is the populism in Switzerland

From Rome to Berlin, from Budapest to Paris to speak about: How will it be the populist parties in the next European elections in may? In Switzerland, we have in 2019 is also an election year. The advent of the populism , however, seems a non-issue. Why?

"populism in Switzerland is not very dangerous, because we have solid institutions. There is a Form of maturity, respect for the rules of the game by the people and the parties." Political scientist Pascal Sciarini

Switzerland Is an island, which is insensitive to the political upheavals that are shaking the continent? "No," said Pascal Sciarini, Yannis Papadopoulos, and Nenad Stojanovic, three political scientists at the University of Geneva and Lausanne. But the Situation in Switzerland was very special. Here are the reasons.

1. Populism in Switzerland: A dirty word?

When we speak of populism in Switzerland, is a party immediately into the spotlight: the SVP . This is a populist Formation? "The SVP is referred to as the national conservative party for what is right. But for me, there are populist elements in the SVP-discourse, precisely in the appeal to the people against the "elites" who would not act properly," says Pascal Sciarini. " Christoph Blochers rhetoric is clearly populist. Other SVP-personalities do not have the same approach. But even today the party is shaped by Blocher," adds Nenad Stojanovic. Nevertheless, the SVP is referred to in political discourse rarely as a populist party. A Swiss Taboo? Yannis Papadopoulos is of a different opinion: "opponents of the SVP label this as a populist", which, according to the political scientist was "technically correct".

Clearly populist rhetoric: Christoph Blocher, SVP strategist.

to explain the reasons for this, one must agree on what is populism. The basic definition of our three experts is that: "populism is an ideology that is everywhere in the political scene. The common denominator is the glorification of as a homogenous Whole considered people, whose Security should be guaranteed," explains Yannis Papadopoulos. In addition, there is an Anti-Elite aspect. The vast majority is compared to a small Elite, with negative traits: incompetence, selfishness, etc." Is positive or negative? To be "populist, is not connoted for me a negative. We speak of populist ideology, as we speak of the socialist or economic ideology," says Papadopoulos. "In the academic debate on populism see some very positive aspects: It allows people who were not previously represented by the traditional parties in the political debate – for example, currently in France, with the yellow West movement. But from the Moment where a populist movement seizes Power, it tends to destroy the institutions that have allowed this. The intolerance, the lives of the populism inherent in it, is dangerous," adds Stojanovic, and refers to countries such as Venezuela or Hungary.

2. The case of the MCG and the Lega dei Ticinesi

is The SVP is the only populist force in Switzerland. Also, the Lega in Ticino and Geneva citizens ' movement MCG (Mouvement citoyens genevois) meet according to expert opinion, the Definition. "There is in their rhetoric the idea of a cultural and identity based defensiveness, coupled with an economic defensive attitude," says Pascal Sciarini. However, the two groups differ slightly from the SVP, because they have in economic and social - political issues and left-wing positions. Yannis adds Papadopoulos: "For me, the MCG is an example of centrist populism." What is with the Lega? "By Definition, it is right-wing, populist, because it speaks of an ethnically unified people," says the Ticino, a political scientist Stojanovic.

3. And the left-wing populists?

populism, there is also on the left side. In Switzerland, such a identify which is more difficult to. Sciarini says: "The right-wing populism emphasizes the people as a Nation and shapes the discourse on culture and identity issues. Left populism is a class populism. The issues that concern him, are of an economic nature. Trying to the oppressed and to defend the under-privileged against "the Rich". In Switzerland, there are traces of this left populism, particularly in Geneva."

The Geneva Professor mentioned the left Position, according to which a frontier worker would pose a threat to the inhabitants of the cantons economically. "There are populist elements in the discourse of the Swiss Left and extreme Left, but they are less pronounced," says Papadopoulos. "In Ticino, there is a movement for socialism, which embodies the left-wing populism," says Stojanovic. But this current stay in Switzerland is marginal. Why? Pascal Sciarini has an explanation: "The right-wing populism is dominant in Switzerland, because he is embodied by the SVP with an identity discourse, and because the country has not experienced a severe economic crisis, the impact would have been a left-wing populist discourse."

4. Why populism is not an issue at the Federal level

Switzerland is in the European political landscape in terms of populism is not an exception: In 2015, almost 30 percent of the voters chose representatives of a populist party in Bern. But in an election year the rise of populism is not a campaign theme. And for good reason: "The real possibility that the SVP gets a majority in Parliament, the Federal Council and the cantons. It is a important party. But 30% are not 51 percent," says Nenad Stojanovic. With other words: The actual risk of an authoritarian shift in Switzerland is not very high. Sciarini emphasizes an additional component: "populism in Switzerland is very dangerous, because we have solid institutions and a functioning democracy. There is a Form of maturity, respect for the rules of the game by the people and the political parties."

5. Swiss democracy: brake or accelerator of populism?

This is the big paradox. The direct democracy of Switzerland is the dream of many European populist parties from the Front National, over the Alternative for Germany, to the Cinque Stelle in Italy. You see this as a way to give the people a voice. "But you don't understand the Swiss System," says Stojanovic, who leads a research project on this topic. His Thesis is: Direct democracy is a brake on the populism. He declared its first results: "such A democratic System creates the referendum again and again situations in which all voters are sometimes a loser, sometimes winner. No one is always in the majority or in the minority. And it shows again and again that there is no unified or homogeneous people, like the populists."

the vote poster of the SVP to the minaret Initiative in 2009. (Photo: Steffen Schmidt, Keystone)

The second advantage of direct democracy in Swiss style: it acts as a safety valve, says Stojanovic: "a populist concern. Anyone can start a popular initiative or a Referendum. If you want to be in Switzerland, no gas surcharge, you don't need the Champs to storm-Elysées." Sciarini closes to him: "to support the Thesis that direct democracy would favor the former, are often the minaret or the immigration initiative mentioned. This is to forget that the majority of the people's true votes with the recommendation of the authorities." In addition, it enables the direct democracy, to make the elites and to keep it under control.

The two political scientists at the University of Geneva, the Swiss System does not materialize, however. "It can hardly be denied that the rise of the SVP has been funded by direct democracy. The party was able to start initiatives and referendums, to your program to enforce," says Sciarini. Papadopoulos concludes: "populism is not a consequence of direct democracy. But direct democracy is an expression of the channels."

(Translation of the "24 heures": Philippe Zweifel)

(editorial Tamedia)

Created: 13.03.2019, 10:23 PM

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