Social Democratic Party of Switzerland

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Social Democratic Party of Switzerland
Establishment date: October 21, 1888
Ideology: Social Democracy
Democratic Socialism
Presidium: Christian Levrat
Christian Levrat 2015
Vice Presidium: Barbara Gysi ,
Ada Marra ,
Marina Carobbio Guscetti ,
Beat Jans ,
Tamara Funiciello
Secretary General: Michael Sorg ,
Rebekka Wyler (co-lead)
Members of the Federal Council: Alain Berset ,
Simonetta Sommaruga
Members: 33,000
(as of 2014)
Proportion of women: in the National Council: 64.1%
in the Council of States: 33.3%
(as of October 27, 2019)
Share of voters: 16.8%
(as of: NR elections 2019)
National Council:
Council of States:
Fraction (BV): Socialist Group
Group President: Roger Nordmann
Cantonal parliaments:

(As of November 2019)
Cantonal Governments:

(As of November 2019)
Party structure: 27 cantonal parties (two in the canton of Valais )
Groupings: SP women
International connections: Socialist International
Progressive Alliance
European party: Party of European Socialists (associated)

The Social Democratic Party of Switzerland ( SP ), French Parti socialiste suisse , Italian Partito socialista svizzero , Rhaeto-Romanic Partida socialdemocratica da la Svizra ? / i , is a social democratic party in Switzerland . It derives its name from the claim to a left political orientation and aims at overcoming capitalism towards democratic socialism . With Simonetta Sommaruga and Alain Berset , the SP provides two members of the Federal Council and is thus one of the four Federal Council parties . She is a member of the Socialist International and an associate member of the Social Democratic Party of Europe . Christian Levrat has been its president since March 2008 . Audio file / audio sample

Content profile

The positions of the SP in the political spectrum of Switzerland (2007)

The current, seventh party program was discussed and approved at the regular party conference in Lausanne on October 30 and 31, 2010. It replaces the Lugano program , which was drawn up in a six-year process and passed at the party congress from November 12 to 14, 1982. With the motto “democratize instead of privatize” and a counter model to “neoliberal market belief”, the SP set itself the goal of overcoming capitalism in its 2010 program.

In its current politics, the SP represents classic social democratic positions. This includes their advocacy of a strong state and public service , against extensive economic but in favor of social liberalization, for more environmental and climate protection , for an opening up of Switzerland in terms of foreign policy and a security policy based on pacifism . In general, however, it should be noted that the sections have great autonomy and so often deviate from the positions of the SP Switzerland.

In economic , financial and social policy , the SP rejects liberal economic concerns such as deregulation , lowering taxes for the wealthy and cutting government spending at the expense of basic services and, in particular, social security (" social cuts "), and fights against a possible increase in the retirement age they vehemently. A stable social network is of great importance for a functioning society based on solidarity. Instead, the SP advocates the expansion of state social benefits in certain areas, e.g. B. in the form of publicly funded maternity and paternity leave , a state health insurance fund or a flexible retirement age , provided that this does not lead to a reduction in pensions. The SP therefore rejects an increase in the retirement age for women without compensation. In tax policy, the SP defends itself against “tax gifts to the rich” and, with its demand for a nationwide harmonization of tax rates, is striving for an increased redistribution from top to bottom. The privatization of public-law or state-sponsored companies and the abolition of the remaining state monopolies ( Swisscom , Post , SRG SSR , electricity market, etc.) have been and are skeptical to hostile. However , the SP advocates more competition in the field of agriculture and parallel imports .

In social issues , the SP is in favor of greater equality and opening. So she sits down z. B. for the reconciliation of family and work for women (e.g. by calling for more external childcare options and more part-time jobs ), wants a factual realization of equal pay for women and men as soon as possible, and advocated the introduction of the registered partnership for homosexuals and those of the abortion deadline . She advocates the early introduction of marriage for all . In the judiciary and on migration , she defends herself against overly restrictive measures and advocates a policy of humanity . She has always rejected the tightening of asylum and immigration laws since the 1980s. To this end, she advocates promoting the integration of migrants. In its position paper on migration policy, the SP calls for «integration from the very beginning», where migrants have to commit to integration agreements immediately after they have arrived. The SP also advocates a liberal drug policy and advocates the controlled distribution of heroin and the decriminalization of cannabis use. On the other hand, she advocates a smoking ban in restaurants and bars.

In foreign and security policy , the SP advocates increased participation by Switzerland in international organizations. In contrast to the bourgeois parties SVP, FDP and CVP, which rely on pure bilateralism , it is fundamentally in favor of Switzerland's full accession to the European Union . The SP also stands by Switzerland's less strict, “active” neutrality, which is reflected in the increased international commitment to peace and human rights . She is in favor of maintaining military neutrality and against joining NATO . Your pacifist stance also comes into play when it comes to the army question: The SP is committed to the abolition of the army. Until this goal is achieved, the Swiss army is to be massively dismantled and rebuilt. Another demand is to move away from the tradition of keeping personal army weapons at home.

Together with the Green Party , the SP finally divides the ecological ideas , which are divided into demands for ecological tax reforms and incentive taxes , in support of energy-saving measures and renewable energies , for environmental and landscape protection (against building new roads, shifting freight traffic off the road the rail, introduction of an Alpine transit exchange ) and for the expansion of public transport as well as in the rejection of nuclear power plants .

organization structure

organization structure

The Social Democratic Party is divided into over 900 sections across Switzerland, which exist at cantonal and communal level. The almost 32,000 members are registered with a local section, and thus also as a member of the cantonal and federal parties. At regular general meetings, delegates are elected in the district sections who can vote at party congresses and delegate meetings of the cantonal party.

Each of the 26 cantonal sections ( Valais is divided into the sections Oberwallis and Valais Romand ) elects delegates to the assemblies of the federal party. The number of delegates per canton depends on the number of national councils that a canton has. The delegates of the cantonal sections are entitled to vote at the party congress and at the delegate assemblies.

The Social Democratic Party has its own youth party . Throughout Switzerland social democratic youths and young adults organize themselves in the Young Socialist Party  (Juso). The Juso is considered to be independent of the “parent party” in determining the political profile, but it is largely supported by it financially and through infrastructure. Within the SP, the Juso is regarded as equivalent to a cantonal section, which means that the Juso can provide its own delegates at party congresses and delegate assemblies. The President of the Young Socialist Party Tamara Funiciello is currently Vice-President of the SP.

Another smaller young party of the SP is the Young SP in the Olten region .


Share of
National Council Council of States
1919 23.5%
1922 23.3%
1925 25.9%
1928 27.4%
1931 28.7%
1935 28.0%
1939 25.9% 1
1943 28.6%
1947 26.2%
1951 26.0%
1955 27.0%
1959 26.4%
1963 26.6%
1967 23.5%
1971 22.9%
1975 24.9%
1979 24.4%
1983 22.8%
1987 18.4%
1991 18.5%
1995 21.8%
1999 22.5%
2003 23.3%
2007 19.6%
2011 18.7%
2015 18.9%
2019 16.8%
1Meaningfulness limited, as silent voting in 9 cantons.


"The new relationship between worker and entrepreneur". Caricature from 1896 on the poor working conditions in Swiss companies from the point of view of the labor movement in the satirical Zurich magazine "Der neue Postillon"

Before today's national Social Democratic Party was founded, various workers' organizations were founded in the 19th century , for example the Grütliverein , the Swiss Trade Union Federation in 1880 and several social democratic parties in Switzerland. However, these workers 'parties mostly only existed for a short time until the Swiss Workers' Day on October 21, 1888, decided to found the Swiss Social Democratic Party. Albert Steck from Bern wrote the party program committed to democracy , which rejected revolutionary aspirations and committed itself to a democratic solution to the social question . The first party president was Alexander Reichel from Bern .

Two years after the party was founded, Jakob Vogelsanger was elected to the National Council as the first social democrat . The moderate party program was replaced at the Aarau Party Congress in 1904 by a Marxist program written by Otto Lang .

The Majorz electoral process for appointing the National Council and the geometry of the constituency initially prevented the SP from becoming a political power to be taken seriously at the national level, despite the growing number of supporters. Two popular initiatives to introduce the proportional representation procedure were rejected. In 1918, however, another proportional representation initiative was accepted by the people.

In 1912 the women's issue was debated for the first time at the Neuchâtel Party Congress. The SP passed a thesis paper obliging the party to seize every opportunity to “act for the introduction of women's suffrage”.

Time of world wars

Although Switzerland remained neutral during the First World War , the preservation from the war did not mean that Switzerland was spared an increasing economic crisis. The resulting social tensions erupted in 1918 in a state strike organized by the trade union federation and the SP . The aim of the strike was a fundamental social reorganization. The Federal Council issued an ultimatum to end and had centers occupied by the military. Under this pressure, the strike ended after four days. Political demands such as the 48-hour week and proportional representation for national council elections were soon introduced. In the 1919 elections , the SP doubled its mandates from 20 to 41.

With the third party program, which was drawn up in 1920, the disagreements within the party grew ever greater. Above all, the " dictatorship of the proletariat " established in the party program during the transition phase from capitalist class society to socialist polity was hotly disputed within the grassroots. In 1921 the party decided not to join the Third Communist International. Left parties then left the party and founded the Communist Party . In 1926, however, the party joined the Socialist Workers' International.

With increasing power in parliament, the party now also demanded government participation, but its candidate was not elected to the Federal Council in 1929. In contrast, the party made it into the executive branch at cantonal level in 1933 . The canton of Geneva received the first “red” government with Léon Nicole as president. In the fourth party program of 1935 the SP swore from the “dictatorship of the proletariat”, but the creation of a socialist order on a “liberal, cooperative basis” remained a goal.

The SP as a ruling party (since 1943)

Share of voters in the SP since 1919
Ernst Nobs , the first social democratic federal councilor

In the National Council elections in 1943 , the SP achieved the best election result in its party history and became the largest parliamentary group . With Ernst Nobs , the first social democrat was elected to the Federal Council. With the introduction of old-age and survivors' insurance , another demand from the general strike was fulfilled. After the failure of the SP initiative for economic reform, the only SP Federal Councilor Max Weber and General Secretary David Farbstein resigned in 1953. The SP remained in opposition until 1959 and the introduction of the so-called “ magic formula ” . Also in that year the fifth party program was adopted, in which the party committed itself to reform socialism on the "soil of democracy". With the introduction of women's suffrage at the federal level in 1971, another demand of the SP was fulfilled.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the SP was able to win new supporters in well-educated circles through the 68 movement and the new social movements , but lost parts of its traditional electorate from the working class. This change was associated with greater internal tensions and accompanied by a loss of votes. After heavy losses in the 1987 elections , the SP was temporarily only the third strongest party. The project of the Democratic-Social Party to found a more traditionally oriented legal branch, however, was not a success.

The sixth party program was drafted in 1982. In this, the party sees itself as a modern people's party, committed to democratic socialism, whose primary goal is social justice. In 1983 the SP nominated Lilian Uchtenhagen as a candidate for the Federal Council, which was the first time that a woman was running for this office. Instead, the bourgeois majority in parliament elected Otto Stich to the Federal Council. Parts of the party now called for a retreat into the opposition. However, this was rejected by the party congress. Ten years later, in March 1993, Ruth Dreifuss was elected to the Federal Council as the first social democratic woman. Once again, the United Federal Assembly did not elect Christiane Brunner , the party candidate , but the unofficial Federal Council candidate Ruth Dreifuss (see Brunner Effect ).

In 1990 the SP party congress approved Switzerland's membership of the IMF under clear conditions and elected the Valais National Councilor Peter Bodenmann to succeed Helmut Hubacher as party president. At the Geneva party congress in 1992, the SP spoke out in favor of joining the European Economic Area as a first step towards a European community and endorsed drug policy theses that call for the decriminalization of drug use, medically controlled drug delivery and, in the long term, drug legalization. In the following year, the SP consistently supported the Federal People's Initiative “for a sensible drug policy”, which provides for the factual legalization of hemp consumption . The SP supported the Alpine Initiative adopted in 1994 , which calls for a definitive shift in freight transit traffic to rail. After the resignation of Federal Councilor Otto Stich , the Zurich National Councilor Moritz Leuenberger was elected as his successor in 1995 . In the national and Council of States elections in October 1995 , the SP made significant gains and again became the strongest parliamentary group.

In June 1997, the party congress elected Zurich city councilor Ursula Koch as the party's first female president to replace the favored Andrea Hämmerle . The SP remained stable in the 1999 parliamentary elections , but had to surrender its position as the party with the largest number of voters to the rapidly growing SVP. Due to internal party pressure, in April 2000 she gave up the presidium and her seat in the National Council. Christiane Brunner was elected as her successor . She led the party until 2004.

In the Swiss parliamentary elections in 2007 , the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland lost massive votes and, with 19.5% and 43 seats in the National Council, fell below the 20% mark again. It remained at a comparable level in the two subsequent elections in 2011 and 2015 , while it recorded further losses in the 2019 elections . In the Council of States, where it traditionally only had a handful of seats, it was able to significantly expand its representation from the 2000s and at times (2019-2013) had up to twelve Council of States members, from the end of 2019 there will be nine.

Representation in parliament

Party strength of the SP in the 2019 National Council elections

In the Swiss parliamentary elections in 2019 , the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland achieved a share of the vote of 16.8 percent. The SP parliamentary group has 39 seats in the National Council and 9 seats in the Council of States.

Since the magic formula was introduced in 1959, it has been represented in the Federal Council with two of a total of seven seats, currently by Simonetta Sommaruga (Federal Department of Justice and Police) and Alain Berset (Federal Department of Home Affairs).

Election results since 2007

year SwitzerlandSwitzerland 
Cantonal parliaments
Canton ZurichCanton Zurich 
Canton BernCanton Bern 
Canton lucerneCanton lucerne 
Canton of UriCanton of Uri 
Canton of SchwyzCanton of Schwyz 
Canton of ObwaldenCanton of Obwalden 
Canton of NidwaldenCanton of Nidwalden 
Canton of GlarusCanton of Glarus 
Canton of ZugCanton of Zug 
Canton of FriborgCanton of Friborg 
Canton of SolothurnCanton of Solothurn 
Canton of Basel-StadtCanton of Basel-Stadt 
Canton of Basel-CountryCanton of Basel-Country 
Canton of SchaffhausenCanton of Schaffhausen 
Canton of Appenzell AusserrhodenCanton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden 
Canton of Appenzell InnerrhodenCanton of Appenzell Innerrhoden 
Canton of St. GallenCanton of St. Gallen 
canton of Grisonscanton of Grisons 
Kanton AargauKanton Aargau 
Canton of ThurgauCanton of Thurgau 
Canton of TicinoCanton of Ticino 
Canton of VaudCanton of Vaud 
Canton of ValaisCanton of Valais 
Canton of NeuchâtelCanton of Neuchâtel 
Canton of GenevaCanton of Geneva 
Canton of JuraCanton of Jura 
2007 19.6 19.5 10.7 22.9 * * 19.0 23.7
2008 12.9 11.0 28.2 23.0 14.4 12.8
2009 20.7 15.7 13.1 28.2 12.9
2010 18.9 10.9 2.1 13.9 10.3 * 21.2
2011 18.7 19.3 11.0 24.3 22.0 11.0 * 15.1
2012 12.1 12.4 30.7 22.6 16.2 15.2 13.4 25.9
2013 19.1 11.9 26.5 14.3
2014 19.1 12.8 4.8 11.5 9.3 *
2015 18.9 19.7 11.8 22.0 11.5 * 14.6 20.0
2016 13.0 12.9 23.6 32.5 22.8 16.0 18.9 13.1
2017 19.9 23.4 10.5 23.6
2018 22.3 15.1 4.5 12.8 11.8 * 15.3
2019 16.8 19.3 13.8 22.8 14.7 * 13.7
2020 13.8 14.2 ... ... 15.1 ... 11.6 ...
Legend: * - Landsgemeinde or major elections / community assemblies in several / all constituencies; ... - zuk. Elections in the current year; Election results in percent; Source:


Federal Councilors

Party presidents

The following politicians were party presidents of the Swiss Social Democratic Party:


  • Christian Levrat , President (March 1, 2008)
  • Marina Carobbio Guscetti , Vice-President (March 1, 2008)
  • Barbara Gysi , Vice President (September 9, 2012)
  • Ada Marra , Vice President (December 1, 2018)
  • Beat Jans , Vice President (December 5, 2015)
  • Tamara Funiciello , Vice President (December 4, 2016)
  • Michael Sorg , Co-Secretary General
  • Rebekka Wyler , Co-Secretary General
  • Roger Nordmann , parliamentary group president
  • Natascha Wey and Martine Docourt, Co-Presidents of the SP Women * (2016 & 2017)
  • Nicola Siegrist, representative of JUSO Switzerland
  • Ronja Jansen, representative of JUSO Switzerland
  • Marianne de Mestral, representative of the SP60 +
  • Carlo Lepori, representative of the SP60 +
  • Osman Osmani, representative of the SP migrants
  • Françoise Bassand, representative of the SP Migrants
  • Mario Carera , elected by the party congress (September 9, 2012)
  • Andreas Burger, elected by the party congress
  • Gabriela Suter, elected by the party congress
  • Priska Seiler Graf and Audi Daure, Co-Presidium of the SP Canton of Zurich
  • Ueli Egger and Mirjam Veglio, Co-Presidium of the SP Canton Bern
  • Pierre Dessemontet, Vice-President SP Vaud
  • Barbara Lanthemann, representative of the coordination conference
  • Martin Pfister, President of the SP Canton Appenzell Innerrhoden, representative of the coordination conference

Gallery of Federal Councilors of the SP


  • Redboox Edition (Ed.), Agree - but not uniform. 125 years of the Swiss Social Democratic Party. redboox, Zurich 2013.

See also

Web links

Commons : Social Democratic Party of Switzerland  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Footnotes and Sources

  1. The Confederation in Brief 2014. (PDF; 14821 kB) (No longer available online.) Swiss Federal Chancellery, February 28, 2014, archived from the original on August 9, 2014 ; Retrieved April 22, 2014 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. a b Elections 2019 results. October 27, 2019, accessed October 27, 2019 .
  3. [1]
  4. SGK-N wants to increase the AHV age for women ( memento of the original from February 2, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Media release of the SP Switzerland from October 14, 2011. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. Archived copy ( Memento of the original from April 20, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. ^ Federal Statistical Office: Cantonal parliamentary elections: party strengths with allocation of mixed lists to the parties