Zug, 07.10.2022

Political scientist analyses Zug's local election result

Why did the GLP gain so much in last Sunday's general elections? Is the time of the election successes of the Greens over? Political scientist Tobias Arnold analyses the results.

The Zug Alternative – the Greens party (ALG) did not succeeded in breaking the bourgeois dominance in the Zug government council (Regierungsrat) - despite the official support of the SP (Socialist party). Its candidate, cantonal councillor Tabea Zimmermann Gibson (Zug), clearly failed. The aim of the Zug Left, which was united for this election, was to regain the seat in the seven-member Zug government that they had lost in 2018.

The agreement between ALG and SP apparently didn’t have an impact on the numbers, at least in the government council election. This was different in the Zug city council (Stadtrat) elections, however. Here, the SP candidate Barbara Gysel, supported by the ALG, immediately made the leap into the city executive. The ALG has a considerable electorate in the city of Zug.

In the 2018 local elections, a replacement had to be found for Manuela Weichelt (Greens/Zug), who was elected to the National Council (Nationalrat) in Berne. The defence of this seat in the government council, with Cantonal Councillors Barbara Gysel (SP/Zug) and Andreas Hürlimann (ALG/Steinhausen) running for the seat previously held by Manuela Weichelt, was unsuccessful, however.

Tabea Zimmermann Gibson (ALG, centre) follows the results of the government council election in the Zug election centre   Photo: Alexandra Wey (Zug, 2 October 2022)

Green wave in the canton smaller than elsewhere
Tobias Arnold, who is apolitical scientist at Interface, who already prophesied in the run-up to the election that a recapture of the "left" seat in the government was likely to be difficult,  was interviewed by the Zuger Zeitung newspaper after the elections.

Tobias Arnold, what is the reason for the failure of the Zug Greens?

Tobias Arnold: The last round of national elections already showed that the ‘green wave’ in the canton of Zug was not as big as seen from a national perspective. And at a time when people are talking about inflation, and perhaps soon recession, the issue of environmental protection seems to be receding into the background somewhat.

Have the Zug Greens reached their voters' ceiling?
I wouldn’t speak of a ceiling. The topic of environmental protection will remain on the agenda, and awareness of it may well increase again in the future. Ultimately, it is also a question of how bourgeois parties position themselves on this.

How do you rate the excellent result of the female Mitte party candidate?

First and foremost, it must be said that such a good result is only possible if the person is convincing far beyond the party line. Other factors certainly helped: Ms Dittli is young, and that can bring a breath of fresh air into the government from the point of view of the electorate. And the coverage of her sister, who also holds a mandate in Lausanne at a very young age, has perhaps also contributed to this.

Do you see trends being confirmed in the canton of Zug that are also evident at the Swiss level?
The results in the canton of Zug are, in fact, similar to the latest nationwide trends in the cantonal parliamentary elections. In Central Switzerland, for example, and specifically in Nidwalden, it was recently observed that the GLP (Green Liberal party) certainly has potential with its green themes and, at the same time, bourgeois economic policy positions. The Mitte party and the SP are indeed the parties that have recently lost ground in many other cantons.

To what do you attribute the losses by the SP?
The SP currently lacks a good election campaign theme. The issue of environmental protection is primarily associated with the parties with "green" in the name, although the positions of the SP hardly deviate from it. And, in economically uncertain times, experience has shown that left-wing positions that demand greater redistribution have traditionally had a hard time.

Hans-Peter Schaub, a political scientist at the University of Bern, sees things in a similar way to Tobias Arnold. He told SRF (Swiss TV) that two Swiss trends are continuing in the canton of Zug. On the one hand, that elections in the cantons hardly ever bring about major shifts. Secondly, the changes that have taken place in recent years are largely confirmed: the GLP is growing, the Mitte and the SP are losing ground, while the Greens as well as the SVP and FDP remain relatively stable.