Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Swiss Elections See Green ‘Tsunami’ After Climate-Focused Campaign

Politics
Visitors look at the Aletsch glacier above Bettmeralp, in the Swiss Alps, on Oct. 1. The mighty Aletsch — the largest glacier in the Alps — could completely disappear by the end of this century if nothing is done to rein in climate change, a study showed on Sept. 12. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Images

Switzerland's two Green parties made historic gains in the country's parliamentary elections Sunday, according to projections based on preliminary results reported by The New York Times.


Together, the left-leaning Green Party and the more centrist Green Liberal Party (GLP) doubled their share of the vote from almost 12 percent in 2015 to almost 21 percent. The official vote tallies will be announced Wednesday, but are expected to match the projections.

"It's really spectacular," Geneva University political scientist Pascal Sciarini told The New York Times. "We expected a Green wave but it's a tsunami, almost."

According to projections reported by Reuters, the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) stayed in first place, but lost 3.6 points compared to its record win in 2015, when it campaigned on anti-immigrant rhetoric during the height of the European refugee crisis. It now holds 25.8 percent of the vote for Switzerland's lower house. The center-left Social Democrats (SP) also maintained their second place spot with 16.6 percent of the vote, and the center-right Liberals (FDP) kept their third-place spot with 15.3 percent of the vote. But the Greens beat out the Christian Democrats (CVP) for fourth place, earning 13 percent of the vote on their own.

The Greens' victory could potentially shake up the composition of Switzerland's governing seven-member Federal Council, which has remained shared by the SVP, SP, FDP and CVP since 1959. But the Greens have now knocked the CVP, which holds one seat on the council, out of fourth place.

"The Federal Council in its current composition no longer fits (the changed political situation)," Greens leader Regula Rytz told Swiss TV, as Reuters reported.

Rytz said the Greens would probably try to take a seat from the FDP, but, in the past, it has taken two election cycles for the council to change based on shifting voting patterns. Switzerland's two parliamentary chambers will elect the government in December.

The Green parties' gains followed an election campaign in which the climate crisis was the "single most important issue," BBC News reported.

Glaciers in the Swiss mountains are melting, and this is leading to rock and mudslides that pose a risk to mountain communities. A recent study found that more than 90 percent of the glaciers in the Alps could melt by 2100 if nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, an Associated Press story published by The Guardian noted. Switzerland is also heating at twice the global average, according to Reuters.

"I think it is pretty obvious that is the most important topic of all in our time and age. There is really not any time to lose," 25-year-old psychology student Anja told Reuters at a Bern polling station.

The call for climate action has been building in Swiss civil society ahead of the election. In September, 100,000 people attended a rally in Bern following a year of climate strikes, according to BBC News.

Switzerland has already pledged to zero out carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, but the green parties will now work to pass other measures including stricter vehicle emissions standards, a tax on flying and a transition to renewable energy, The New York Times reported.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

These seven cookbooks by Black chefs have inspired the author's family. LightFieldStudios / Getty Images

By Zahida Sherman

Cooking has always intimidated me. As a child, I would anxiously peer into the kitchen as my mother prepared Christmas dinner for our family.

Read More Show Less
Hand sanitizer is offered to students during summer school sessions at Happy Day School in Monterey Park, California on July 9, 2020. FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expanded its list of potentially toxic hand sanitizers to avoid because they could be contaminated with methanol.

Read More Show Less
Over the next couple of weeks, crews will fully remove the 125-foot-wide, 25-foot-tall dam, allowing the Middle Fork Nooksack to run free for the first time in 60 years. Ctyonahl / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0

By Tara Lohan

The conclusion to decades of work to remove a dam on the Middle Fork Nooksack River east of Bellingham, Washington began with a bang yesterday as crews breached the dam with a carefully planned detonation. This explosive denouement is also a beginning.

Read More Show Less
A man observes a flooded stretch of Dock Street in Annapolis, Maryland on Jan. 25, 2010. Matt Rath / Chesapeake Bay Program

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Tuesday that a trend of increased coastal flooding will continue to worsen as the climate crisis escalates.

Read More Show Less
A new tool called The Food Systems Dashboard aims to save decision makers time and energy by painting a complete picture of a country's food system. Photo courtesy of Dr. Jessica Fanzo and Dr. Rebecca McLaren

By Katie Howell

A new tool called The Food Systems Dashboard aims to save decision makers time and energy by painting a complete picture of a country's food system. Created by the Johns Hopkins' Alliance for a Healthier World, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Dashboard compiles food systems data from over 35 sources and offers it as a public good.

Read More Show Less
White's seahorse, also called the Sydney seahorse, is native to the Pacific waters off Australia's east coast. Sylke Rohrlach / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Manuela Callari

It can grow to a maximum of six inches (16 centimeters), change color depending on mood and habitat, and, like all seahorses, the White's seahorse male gestates its young. But this tiny snouted fish is under threat.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks at a "Build Back Better" Clean Energy event on July 14, 2020 at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware. Joe Biden / Facebook

Presidential hopeful Joe Biden announced a $2 trillion plan Tuesday to boost American investment in clean energy and infrastructure.

Read More Show Less