Swiss Anti-Immigration Party Wins Big in Elections

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GENEVA — A nationalist party campaigning on fears about mass migration to Europe appeared set Sunday to become the big winner in Swiss legislative elections, according to projections, continuing a shift to the political right for Switzerland.

The anti-immigration y appeared set to gain 11 seats and the pro-business Free Democratic Party three in the lower house of Parliament, the National Council, according to the latest figures from RTS, a state-backed broadcaster. Together, the two leading parties of the right were set to hold 99 seats — just one short of half of the 200-seat assembly.

downloadIf the rightist parties end up winning control, the result would mark a shift from the success of moderate parties in the last elections four years ago: On Sunday, the biggest parties of the left and center all lost ground or just held even. A projection giving the People’s Party nearly 30 percent of the vote surpassed poll predictions, while the Social Democrats — the country’s second-largest party — unexpectedly lost support.

Final results for the National Council are expected by Monday. The makeup of the upper house, the 46-member Council of States, will be known in three weeks.

In Switzerland’s arcane electoral calculus, the outcome sets the stage for back-channel negotiations for the real prize: seats in the seven-person Federal Council, the executive branch, which makes decisions behind closed doors and by consensus, and includes the president, a rotating post. The incoming assembly will choose that body’s makeup on Dec. 9, and the People’s Party wants a second seat.

The People’s Party — already the country’s most popular political movement — holds one seat on the Federal Council, while the Free Democrats and Social Democrats each have two.

“It’s important to listen to the Swiss people,” said Toni Brunner, the leader of the People’s Party.