The Parliamentary and Executive Elections in Switzerland, 2015

Müller, Sean; Gerber, Marlène (2016). The Parliamentary and Executive Elections in Switzerland, 2015. Electoral studies, 43, pp. 194-197. Elsevier Science 10.1016/j.electstud.2016.06.002

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The 2015 federal elections in Switzerland brought a shift to the political right and re-established executive proportionality. Since this came about mainly via the weakening of the centre, the results also signal a return to a trend begun in the early 1990s, which temporarily stalled in 2011 (see Mueller and Dardanelli, 2013): a growth or at least (in the case of the left) a consolidation of the two pole-parties. These are, on the right, the national-conservative Swiss People’s Party (SVP/UDC, hereafter SVP), and the Socialist Party of Switzerland (SPS/PSS, hereafter SPS) on the left. The SVP gained both votes and seats in the National Council and increased its presence in the Swiss government to two seats (out of seven). It failed, however, to enlarge its delegation in the Council of States. The SPS, on the other hand, lost three seats in the National Council, but stabilized its overall vote share, increased its size in the prestigious (and equally powerful) Council of States and held on to its two executive seats with ease.

Other noteworthy facts include the gains of Switzerland’s most traditional party, the Liberals (FDP/PLR, hereafter FDP), and the losses of both the “old” and the “new” centre parties. The FDP won additional votes and seats in both parliamentary chambers and, like the SPS, held on to its two government seats without disputes. However, Switzerland’s second oldest party, the centrist Christian-Democrats (CVP/PDC, hereafter CVP), continued its decline, even if it managed to stand its ground in the Council of States and retain its one seat in the Federal Council. The two other centre parties, the Green-Liberals (GLP/PVL, hereafter GLP) and the Conservative Democratic Party (BDP/PBD, hereafter BDP), founded in 2007 and 2008, respectively, also lost both votes and seats.

These results paint a picture of increased polarisation and reduced fragmentation, and the return of the SVP to full executive strength might bode well for the stability of the country’s institutions. However, the two houses of parliament are now dominated by different majorities, which might jeopardise consensus-finding – especially if executive proportionality is not matched by consociational behaviour.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Other Institutions > Teaching Staff, Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences
03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Political Science

UniBE Contributor:

Müller, Sean, Gerber, Marlène


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science




Elsevier Science




Marlène Gerber

Date Deposited:

28 May 2018 11:14

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:12

Publisher DOI:





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