Switzerland - Political parties

Party descriptions and CMP left-right scores
Party Type 91 95 99 03 Average
SVP Agrarian/Conservative -6.1 23.3 26.1 41.7 21.2
SPS Social Democratic -24.5 -19.6 -33.5 -38.2 -28.9
FDP Liberal 23.9 32.5 33.1 15.8 26.3
CVP Christian Democratic -16.7 3 13.5 39.2 9.8
GPS Ecologist -45.4 -11 -10.5 -19.2 -21.5
GLP Liberal/Ecologist
EVP Christian Democratic -2.9 -14 38.7 23.4 11.3
LEGA Ethnic-Regional (right-wing)

The table shows the periodical scores on left-right position as given in the Comparative Manifesto Project (Volkens, Andrea, et.al., 2010). The scores range from -100 (left) to +100 (right).

Type: Tentative grouping of political parties and alliances based on information provided in the Comparative Manifesto Project and from party descriptions in Europa World Yearbook, Encyclopædia Britannica and in election reports from the European Journal of Political Research and/or Electoral Studies.

SVP - Swiss People's Party - (Schweizerische Volkspartei)

Founded in 1971 by the merger of the Farmers, Artisans, and Citizens' Party (generally known as the Agrarian Party) with the Democratic Party. It has pursued conservative social and economic policies, including lower taxes and reduced spending, as well as the protection of Swiss agriculture and industry. The party has also opposed Swiss membership in international bodies such as the United Nations and the European Union. Although its support was originally concentrated in rural Switzerland, it now enjoys considerable success in urban areas. It has also been strong historically with German-speaking Swiss citizens. Adopting a more populist agenda in the 1990s, particularly on immigration and social welfare, the party made substantial gains. In 2007 it significantly extended its winning margin; however, it was shaken by internecine strife and the party withdrew from the country's governing coalition.

SPS - Social Democratic Party of Switzerland - (Sozialdemokratische Partei der Schweiz)

Founded in 1888, the Social Democratic Party is among the country's oldest existing political parties. In the late 19th century it was one of the leading opposition groups to the then-dominant Radical Democratic Party, and after the introduction of proportional representation for national elections in the 20th century, it exerted significant influence on Swiss political life. It is a political party of the centre-left that supports an extensive government role in the economy. The party's policies have generally reflected those of the democratic socialist tradition in Europe; for example, it supports giving the federal government the power of direct taxation and sanctions greater government management of the economy. In the second half of the 20th century the party championed a number of other issues, including environmental protection and an expanded role for women in government. It also became a principal advocate of Swiss membership in international bodies, including the United Nations and the European Union. The Social Democratic Party suffered a setback in the 2007 elections, losing nearly three per cent of the vote. However, it is still the second largerst group in parliament with 42 seats in the House of Representatives.

FDP - Free Democratic Party of Switzerland - (Freisinnig-Demokratische Partei)

The Radical Democratic Party, sometimes known as the Free-Thinking Democratic Party, traces its roots to the movement that gave rise in 1848 to the Swiss Confederation and to the country's first constitution. From 1848 to the end of the 19th century, when it was known as the Liberal Party, it dominated Swiss politics. The introduction of proportional representation for national elections in the 20th century reduced its strength, but it continued to play a leading role in Swiss politics throughout the century. Since its founding the Radical Democratic Party has supported a strong federal government and a market economy, but at the same time, it has been an advocate for the rights of local government and of minority groups. Since 1993 the centre-right Radicals have been steadily losing support, taking only 15.6 per cent of the vote in the 2007 elections. The Radical Party, which is traditionally perceived as close to the business community, has cooperated with the more conservative Liberals in parliament before they merged in 2008.

CVP - Christian Democratic People's Party of Switzerland - (Christlichdemokratische Volkspartei der Schweiz)

Founded in 1912 as the Swiss Conservative Party, the Christian Democratic People's Party was created to represent the interests of Switzerland's Roman Catholics. Since its founding, it also has included representatives of Christian trade unions. The CVP traditionally has been opposed to the centralization of power at the federal level and to federal taxation, favouring instead the raising of revenues by such means as taxes on tobacco and alcohol. The party supports the use of religious institutions and the application of religious values to the solving of social problems and has endorsed policy aimed at strengthening the family unit. The CVP has also encouraged greater participation by Switzerland in international relations, including support for aid to developing countries and entry into the United Nations and the European Union. Since the end of the 1980s the party has steadily lost voters. They succeeded in halting the decline in the 2007 elections and have 31 seats in the House of Representatives.

GPS - Green Party of Switzerland - (Grüne Partei der Schweiz)

The Green Party has its roots in various environmental groups that formed in the 1970s to prevent the construction of new motorways. The party work for sustainable development, environmentalism, decentralisation, and human rights. It won its first seats to the House of Representatives in 1983 and gradually increased its share of the vote to nearly ten per cent in the 2007 elections, and now have a record 22 seats in parliament, including two in the Senate. It is the largest of the opposition parties.

BDP - Conservative Democratic Party of Switzerland - (Bürgerlich-Demokratische Partei Schweiz)

Founded in November 2008 by former members of SVP cantonal organizations in Aargau, Basel-Landschaft, Basel-Stadt, Bern, Fribourg, Glarus, Graubünden, Luzern, Neuchâtel, St Gallen, Schwyz, Solothurn, Thurgau, Valais, Vaud and Zürich.

GLP - Green Liberal Party of Switzerland - (Grünliberale Partei der Schweiz)

Founded 2007; represented in Federal Assembly and Zürich cantonal council.

EVP - Evangelical People's Party - (Evangelische Volkspartei der Schweiz)

Party founded in 1919 as the People's Party. It is a Protestant Christian party, which is centre-left on social issues and conservative on ethical issues.

LEGA - Ticino League - (Lega dei Ticinesi)

A regional populist right-wing political party active in the canton of Ticino.


Political Organizations (Switzerland). 2012. In Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Bergen. Retrieved March 2012 from http://www.europaworld.com/entry/ch.dir.43

Switzerland, political parties. (2009). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved November 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online

Electoral Studies (Elsevier), election reports on Switzerland.

European Journal of Political Research (European Consortium for Political Research), reports on Switzerland.

Budge, I.; Klingemann, H.-D.; Volkens, A.; Bara, J.; Tanenbaum, E., with Fording, R.C.; Hearl, D.J.; Kim, H.M.; McDonald, M. and Mendez, S. (2001). Mapping Policy Preferences. Estimates for Parties, Electors, and Governments 1945-1998. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Klingemann, H.D.; Volkens, A.; Bara, J.; Budge, I.; McDonald, M. (2006). Mapping Policy Preferences II. Estimates for Parties, Electors, and Governments in Eastern Europe, the European Union and the OECD, 1990-2003. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Volkens, Andrea; Lacewell, Onawa; Regel, Sven; Schultze, Henrike; Werner, Annika (2010): The Manifesto Data Collection. Manifesto Project (MRG/CMP/MARPOR), Berlin: Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB): http://manifesto-project.wzb.eu/