Greens surge in Switzerland; left retains Bolivia presidency and wins Budapest mayoral election; far-right surges in German and Italian state elections

Switzerland uses proportional representation by canton (state). At the October 20 election, the right-wing People’s Party won 53 of the 200 lower house seats (down 12), the Social Democrats 39 (down four), the Liberals 29 (down four), the Greens 28 (up 17), the Christian Democrats 25 (down two), the Green Liberals 16 (up nine) and the Conservative Democrats three (down four).

Elections were also held for the 46-member upper house. While lower house seats are allocated to cantons on a population basis, the 20 full cantons have two upper house seats each, and the six half-cantons one seat each. Most cantons will have a second round election for the upper house on November 24, so we do not know upper house results yet.

Switzerland has a unique system of executive government. Rather than a directly elected president or a PM elected by parliament who wields executive power, Switzerland has a seven-member Federal Council. The Council currently has two People’s Party, two Social Democrats, two Liberals and one Christian Democrat.

Elections to the Council are held by both chambers of parliament sitting as one. The composition of the Council roughly reflects parliament’s composition. A Green may be elected to Council at the expense of a right-wing party.

Left-wing Marales wins fourth term in Bolivia (actually not)

Left-wing Bolivian president Evo Marales was first elected in 2005 and re-elected in 2009 and 2014, winning over 60% in his first two re-election bids. At the October 20 election, Morales was held to 47.1%, while his principal opponent, Carlos Mesa, won 36.5%. As Morales had over 40% while finishing more than ten points ahead of his nearest rival, he was elected without a runoff.

There was controversy in this election, both regarding Morales running for a fourth term and the count. A preliminary count was paused with 83% counted; Morales led by seven points at that point, which would have required a runoff.

Update November 11: Morales announced on November 10 that he would resign as president, after a report from the Organisation of American States found “serious irregularities” in the vote count. A new presidential election will be required.

Left wins Budapest, but Fidesz wins overall in Hungarian local elections

Hungarian local elections were held on October 13. The opposition parties gained the Budapest mayoralty from the governing far-right Fidesz. However, across all local elections, Fidesz won 54.5% of the vote, to 41.0% for all opposition parties.

Fidesz has won three successive landslides at national elections since 2010. Although major cities are trending left, regions are trending right globally. If Fidesz continues to win a majority across Hungary, they will continue to govern.

Far-left and far-right largest parties after Thuringian (Germany) state election

At the October 27 Thuringian state election in Germany, the far-left Left won 29 of the 90 seats (up one since 2014), the far-right AfD 22 (up 11), the conservative CDU 21 (down 13), the centre-left SPD eight (down four), the Greens five (down one) and the pro-business FDP five. The threshold was 5%, and the FDP cleared it by just six votes (0.0005 points). I do not know whether there will be a recount. It is the first time since German reunification that the Left has been the biggest party in a state election.

46 seats are required for a majority. Although the Left has been in coalition governments before, only other left-wing parties have previously worked with it, while the AfD has been frozen out of government by all other parties. To reach a majority, the CDU will need to not actively oppose the Left. The previous Thuringian government was a Left/SPD/Green coalition.

Update November 10: In final results announced November 7, presumably after rechecking all votes cast, the FDP passed the 5% threshold by 73 votes.

Far-right crushes in Umbrian (Italy) regional election

At the October 27 Umbrian regional election in Italy, the far-right League candidate won 57.6%, to 37.5% for the centre-left candidate, who was backed by the anti-establishment Five Star Movement. Since 1970, the Umbrian presidency has been held by the left. At the 2015 election, the centre-left candidate defeated the right-wing candidate by 3.5%.

In August, the League’s national leader, Matteo Salvini, broke his coalition with the Five Stars in an attempt to force new Italian elections, but they formed a coalition with the centre-left Democrats to reach a governing majority – details here. The Umbrian election was the first since the Five Star/Democrat coalition was formed, and will be a little revenge for Salvini and the League.

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