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Opposition in consensual Switzerland: a short but significant experiment


Church, C; Vatter, A (2009). Opposition in consensual Switzerland: a short but significant experiment. Government and Opposition, 44(4):412-437.

Abstract

Although conventional wisdom sees Switzerland as oppositionless, in December 2007 its biggest party, the Swiss People's Party (SVP), declared itself in 'opposition'. It implied this was something dramatic but implementation was hesitant, degenerating into personalized attacks on the minister elected over its party leader. This led to splits in the party and the strategy petered out, with the SVP returning to collegial government, consensus having proved too strong. Although political science has recently neglected opposition, the SVP's understanding of the concept was distant from most ideas of 'opposition politics', notably Anglo-Saxon practices. The experiment is therefore best understood as a rhetorical flourish, arising out of the SVP's powerful, but unusual, populism. Though unsuccessful, it shows Swiss politics are changing and the populist challenge remains.

Although conventional wisdom sees Switzerland as oppositionless, in December 2007 its biggest party, the Swiss People's Party (SVP), declared itself in 'opposition'. It implied this was something dramatic but implementation was hesitant, degenerating into personalized attacks on the minister elected over its party leader. This led to splits in the party and the strategy petered out, with the SVP returning to collegial government, consensus having proved too strong. Although political science has recently neglected opposition, the SVP's understanding of the concept was distant from most ideas of 'opposition politics', notably Anglo-Saxon practices. The experiment is therefore best understood as a rhetorical flourish, arising out of the SVP's powerful, but unusual, populism. Though unsuccessful, it shows Swiss politics are changing and the populist challenge remains.

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12 citations in Web of Science®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Language:English
Date:3 September 2009
Deposited On:18 Dec 2009 14:36
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:36
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0017-257X
Publisher DOI:10.1111/j.1477-7053.2009.01295.x
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-24938

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