The far-right Swiss People's Party (SVP) has won the largest share of the vote in Switzerland's parliamentary elections.
The party which ran an anti-foreigner campaign, won 11 extra seats in the lower house of parliament taking its total to 55.
Centrist parties were the biggest losers in the elections and the results pose a challenge to the traditional consensus of Swiss politics.
What is your reaction to the Swiss election results? What does it mean for the country's future?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The comments below reflect a balance of views received:
Blood sports, cruel, sickening, is all we hear from people who sit in their comfortable armchairs and scream. Let's hear it for the human first, then I will think about the animal. In the meantime fox hunting should be left alone for goodness sake.
Rita Scriven, England
Foxes need to be culled regardless of whether hunting is banned. The choices we are making is over a 'natural' method which allows healthy foxes to escape or shooting, which often leads to a slow death if the marksman misses. In my view there are much more important things to consider for example education, health and crime.
Everything has been said already about this hunting debate. Hunting is not a sport for the upper classes, as I have hunted and I am certainly not rich or posh, just a normal comprehensive educated person, trying to make ends meet.
I live in the countryside (Cumbria) and I haven't seen many foxes in my area, even though hunting doesn't take place there. Don't believe pro-hunting lobbyists when they tell you people from 'rural Britain' support it and "it's a vital part of the rural economy" because it is not, and about 99% of people I've spoke to are opposed. Foxes do need to be controlled, they are farming pests. There are however more humane ways to do it.
Despite being an old leftie I welcome this election result. For years the SVP has been claiming that they can do better and that they are not part of the "classe politique" with all its in-deals, which is a lie as they have been part of communal, cantonal and federal government bodies for years and in, some cases, decades. With their demands to send Blocher, into the Federal Council (basically the Cabinet), there is an opportunity to achieve two things:
a) to show that the SVP has easy recipes that have never had to be put to the test and that will work no better than the present system, in which they, wrongly claim, to have no hand, and
b) to demonstrate that Blocher is an attention-seeker who will run out of steam like Haider in Austria because he and his party have made no real contribution to Swiss politics other than saying "no" to whatever initiatives set in motion.
One last point: Blocher was at the helm of a movement to stop Switzerland from entering the EEA back in the early nineties, with the Swiss electorate rejecting the initiative by a very small margin. Nowadays Blocher is in the forefront claiming that the economic situation in Switzerland is catastrophic, as was predicted by those in favour of the EEA. Is there perhaps a connection?
Franz Andres Morrissey, Switzerland
The Swiss People's Party (SVP) has yet again made great progress in this years' election, because it is the only party in Switzerland that has developed and published a coherent programme and which it has promised to pursue.
A lot of Swiss are fed up with the wishy-washy and spend only politics of the other parties, coupled with a web of patronage and nepotism. The objectives of the SVP are to stop and reverse this situation.
The SVP party is neither a racist nor an anti-foreigner party but its goal is to defend the rights of the Swiss people. A number of naturalised former immigrants of all religions and origins are members of the SVP and are very outspoken exactly on these topics.
Peter R. Maeder,
The results show that the Swiss are no different than any other country: blame the foreigners when things are not going well. But let's not forget that the SVP, although the largest party, still only got 27% of the vote and will only have a maximum of 2 (out of 7) seats in the Bundesrat. Unlike certain other countries (where it is possible for the largest party even with a minority of the votes to form a government and do what it likes for the next 4/5 years) the SVP will have to work together with the representatives of the other parties in running the country.
Brian Bailey, Switzerland
While there is a success for the right wing party, the effects should not be overestimated: 72 percent of the voters voted for other parties. i.e. three quarters of the voters do not share Blocher's view.
It remains to be seen whether he makes it into the Government. Chances are small, given the intricacies of the Swiss system, which favours rather rational choices.
Laurenz Hüsler, Switzerland
I am very disappointed by the results of the Swiss elections.
I think that it's despicable that the SVP has promoted itself based on racism. If Switzerland wants to keep immigrants out, then it should reform its constitution, instead of bad mouthing its foreign population. Yes Switzerland needs change in certain areas, however the promotion of unhealthy attitudes towards those who are not Swiss, and using them as scapegoats doesn't seem like a very constructive or realistic way of solving the country's problems.
Why is it when anyone is not a socialist that they are evil, stupid, racist, etc.? Can it be that there IS a problem not being solved by socialism? Socialist cry about big business that has too much control over our lives, but cares nothing when big government has even more power to control us.
Craig Traylor, Texas, USA
Even the most tolerant have their limits. When a tax paying citizen's rights take second-place to immigrants, then something is very wrong! Add to that over-population and crime is sure to follow. Something needs to be done, but allowing masses of immigrants into another country is not the answer nor is depleting the coffers of social programs. I'm sure the quality of life for the Swiss citizens has suffered tremendously to get this reaction.
The problem in many EU countries is that they have asylum leading to endless welfare instead of immigration leading to work and citizenship (as in America). EU countries need to accept immigration as a fact and work to integrate immigrants into their societies instead of pretending that they are temporary asylum seekers who will one day leave. The racists gain support by being the only party to propose solutions of any type. The mainstream parties need to put forth non-racist solutions instead of ignoring the problem. Immigration can be a powerful engine for economic growth.
I was shocked at the news. I got acquainted with many Swiss when I stayed in London as a student. I believed they were sensible people. It is said that they had voted for them because of the social problems but I think they can't justify supporting the racists. Swiss has been speaking about humanity and morality for long time and was a representative of good sense in the world. I think they lost the preciousness by the result. I was very disappointed.
Be aware that 20% of the population in Switzerland have no right to vote, nor will they ever have - the foreign residents. Should a complete, democratic vote be taken, the SVP would be disenfranchised.
A very sad day for my country. The only SVP political agenda is saying no to the government's proposals and launching referendums. It is an anti-social party demanding stricter measures against foreigners (about 20% of the population) but refusing funds to increase the police force. Asking Swiss couple to make more babies, but refusing a proper "maternity" insurance coverage for women. There is a hypocrisy in Mr Blocher's "do as I say, not as I do" that's sickening. And I simply cannot understand how his populist, simplistic, rhetoric can appeal to my fellow Swiss compatriots. We're in for a bad time.
Sylviane Lachat, Switzerland
The outcome of the vote wasn't surprising. The Swiss right-wing party has been playing the bad-immigrant-card for years now, and in the current economic situation, it's obvious that more and people latch onto the promises of Blocher and co. What I find much more surprising, however, is that the left-wing also gained seats in Sunday's elections. Together with the Greens the SP (Social Democratic Party) they now have 32%, 5% more than the SVP.
Twenty years ago I was on a train in Switzerland and shared the cabin with a Turk and Yugoslav. At that time, these two men told me that they were subjected to searches and very stringent labour laws. The passport officials were very thorough when allowing these two men into the country. I was completely ignored. To think that twenty years on things have changed, is a mistake. The only difference today is that people are more concerned about their economic livelihood than ever before.
This result shows a larger polarisation of the Swiss people which I believe is needed. The high standard of living paired with stability and predictability has made Switzerland a backward looking country with little innovation. This result will hopefully shake up the political system and the inherent lethargy and produce a dialogue leading eventually to a more modern Switzerland.
Urs Rutschmann, Switzerland
The changing political tide in Switzerland carries lessons for other nations as well. I see it as a warning for those of us in the USA, as I see many interesting parallels.
Ed Harris, USA
I am not only very worried about these results, but also angry and ashamed for the people who voted for the "UDC"=(SVP), who are too stupid to realise that this party lies to them, deceives them and does not care a bit for the welfare of the middle and lower classes. I do not know where it will lead us from here, but the future is gloomy.
Maryline Billieux, Switzerland
I did not vote for the SVP, but the other parties are not doing themselves any favours by ignoring the problem of immigration and asylum. Too much political correctness is bad for your political health.
Paolo, Swiss in the UK
As a Brit living in Switzerland for the past year, I can't say I'm surprised. Any party which stands against immigration cannot fail to do well here in the current climate. I have been truly shocked at the depth of bad feeling towards anyone who's not Swiss, but in particular towards immigrants from the former Yugoslavia and Turkey. The Swiss seem to feel under siege from the large population of foreigners here, and Blocher will continue to improve his standing if he plays on these fears.
Kevin Banks, Switzerland
I do get the impression that many Swiss are concerned about the presence of so many foreigners and that these people are receiving assistance from the government that could be spent on the welfare of Swiss citizens. The economic slump has also contributed to people's anxieties. Still, I think it is mostly the older generations that have contributed to the popularity of the SVP; most young people realise the importance of foreign labour and the globalising economy.
Erik Petersen, Basel, Switzerland
When economic conditions are bad, people tend to blame foreigners for the troubles. Many far right parties win emotional votes by campaigning on "us" versus "them". However, when it comes to the serious and grabby business of government, these parties will not be able to continue making people feel good, especially when the "they" are central and significant contributors to the economy.
My husband has been living in Switzerland for a little while and the general consensus among the Swiss does appear to have reflected itself in their vote - they are anti-asylum, and in a small number of people, downright racist. It comes as no surprise that the far right are gaining power through Europe as the continent's citizens watch many illegal immigrants get an easy ride.
A very sad day for Switzerland, and a very sad day for democracy.
To Vera, Switzerland:
Why is this a sad day for democracy? Democracy did its job, namely, letting the people determine who governs them. It may be a sad day for you, but just because your party didn't win doesn't make it a sad day for democracy.
Having lived in Zurich for almost 10 years, I was witness to countless immigrant demonstrations resulting in injuries and property damage. These demonstrators basically demanded, not asked for, demanded all the rights of a Swiss citizen. This election result is the culmination of years of tolerance finally coming to an end.
Jesse Betts, USA