The Greens were the big winners in the 2019 federal elections – now they are losing momentum, as the second SRG SSR election barometer shows. And this despite the fact that climate change is still at the top of the Swiss worry barometer.
This content was published on March 22, 2023
There are still no winners of the October 22nd elections. However, the left-wing Greens could become the big losers: According to the second election barometer by the Sotomo research institute, the party would currently lose 2.5 percentage points compared to the last elections. This means that the forecast loss has increased even more since the first survey in October. But the party is still doing better than before green wave 2019external link.
The bourgeois green-liberal party GLP is stagnating and cannot compensate for the losses in the ecological camp. Political scientist Michael Hermann, head of the Sotomo Institute, analyzes the current situation as follows: “The decline in the Greens can be explained by a certain demobilization in relation to climate change: the enthusiasm that was triggered four years ago by the student strikes for climate protection has subsided.”
Despite the lower level of enthusiasm for the topic, global warming remains the undisputed main concern of the Swiss. 42% of voters still believe that climate change is the biggest challenge for the country.
However, another party has also managed to make its mark on this issue: the left-wing Social Democratic Party SP. “She won back some of her voters who switched to the Greens in 2019,” says Michael Hermann. After the SP has consistently lost voter shares in recent years, there are signs of a trend reversal. The election barometer predicts a gain of one percentage point. The SP should thus defend its place as the second strongest political force in the country.
The second voting barometer of the Swiss radio and television company SRG SSR, to which swissinfo.ch also belongs, was carried out by the Sotomo research institute. Based on survey data collected between February 20th and March 5th. 27,058 voters took part in the survey, on the one hand on the Internet portals of the SRG and on the other hand on the Sotomo website. The margin of error is +/- 1.2 percentage points.
Since the participants in the survey recruit themselves (opt-in procedure), the composition of the sample is not representative of the entire population. For example, more men than women usually take part in political polls. The biases in the sample are corrected by statistical weighting procedures.
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The migration issue is gaining in importance
According to the forecast, the right-wing conservative Swiss People’s Party SVP will also gain one percentage point and thus maintain its status as the strongest party in Switzerland. The SVP core issue of immigration plays into the party’s hands. It has risen to become the second most important concern of voters in the current year.
Switzerland is facing a significant increase in asylum applications and the economic recovery after a pandemic is attracting tens of thousands of workers from European Union countries to Switzerland.
However, the situation is not comparable to 2015, when the SVP achieved record growth. “Back then, the debate about the mass immigration initiative, the Syrian refugee crisis and the attack on Charlie Hebdo meant that the topic of migration overshadowed the other topics. We’re a long way from that,” says Michael Hermann.
The overall more positive attitude towards migrants can also be explained by the lack of workers in Switzerland. According to the election barometer, unemployment and wages are only a key concern for 4% of those surveyed. Another campaign issue of the SVP, their fight against the woke wave, seems less relevant: Only 11% of the electorate find the problem important.
Also read: The SVP will not win many votes with their fight against wokism
No upheaval in sight
Despite these changes, according to the second SRG survey, no party is likely to gain significant ground in the fall elections. Political stability in Switzerland is thus maintained, even if the figures indicate a slight shift to the right.
However, the survey was conducted before the announcement of UBS’s forced takeover of Credit Suisse, which averted a catastrophic bankruptcy.
The transaction, which was carried out with federal guarantees, is currently on everyone’s lips. “However, it does not have the emotional potential to change the political balance,” says Sotomo political scientist Sarah Bütikofer. The topic will not become one of the most important concerns of the citizens.
If anyone should profit from the earthquake in the banking sector, it’s the left. “The SP could benefit from this and make a name for itself with the issue at the expense of the right, but also the Greens,” says Michael Hermann.
Also read: Collapse of Credit Suisse: These are the open questions
Fifth Switzerland has other concerns
The survey also shows that the Swiss abroad assess the challenges of Switzerland differently. In particular, they consider social security, independence and sovereignty to be more important than the domestic electorate. For Fifth Switzerland, these issues are almost as important as climate change.
At the same time, the Swiss abroad attach less importance to the reform of old-age provision.
The results of the first election barometer from last October can be found here:
Translated from French: Marcleutegger.
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