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Left-of-Centre Parties and Trade Unions in the Twenty-First Century$
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Elin Haugsgjerd Allern and Tim Bale

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198790471

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198790471.001.0001

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Strong Ties between Independent Organizations

Strong Ties between Independent Organizations

Unions and Political Parties in Switzerland

(p.226) 12 Strong Ties between Independent Organizations
Left-of-Centre Parties and Trade Unions in the Twenty-First Century

Roland Erne

Sebastian Schief

Oxford University Press

Although Swiss unions are notionally independent from political parties, this chapter distinguishes three currents within the Swiss labour movement: a left-wing current around the Swiss Trade Union Confederation (SGB-USS), related to Social Democrats (SP-PS); a Catholic current around Travail.Suisse, related to the Christian Democrats (CVP-PDC); and a non-aligned, politically moderate current, which consists of autonomous white-collar employee associations (e.g. the KV). Whereas the relations between Travail.Suisse and the CVP-PDC deteriorated during the past decade, all Swiss unions consolidated or even strengthened their ties with the Social Democrats, despite a declining working-class vote for the SP-PS. This suggests that changes in Swiss party–union relations do not so much reflect changing social cleavages, but rather the contingent political opportunity structures built into Switzerland’s direct democratic political system that strengthens the role of interest associations vis-à-vis political parties.

Keywords:   Switzerland, trade unions, employer’s organization, direct democracy, social cleavages, political opportunity structures, interest politics, corporatism, catholic labour movement, socialist labour movement

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