An anti-immigrant conservative party is set to win a third of the seats in Switzerland's parliamentary elections, according to preliminary results. Around 50 percent of voters cited migration as a main concern.
According to preliminary results, Switzerland's right-wing anti-immigrant Swiss People's Party (SVP) is set to strengthen its position in parliament.
Local media reported that the ultraconservative party is set to gain a third of the seats in the lower house, which would mark a record gain for the SVP, according to AFP news agency.
Following final results reported in half of the country's 26 cantons, Switzerland's ATS news agency projected that the SVP may gain an additional 11 seats in parliament, resulting in 64 out of the 200 seats in the lower house.
The gains would beat the SVP's previous record of 62 seats following the 2007 general elections.
Nearly 50 percent of voters polled by the gfs.bern institute indicated that migration was the most important issue facing the prosperous Alpine country, while 9 percent said they were concerned with Switzerland's relationship to the EU.
The SVP has campaigned on an anti-immigrant platform, with factions of the far-right party handing out posters with crude depictions of Muslims.
However, the party this year was less confrontational with its propaganda compared to previous years, opting for the campaign slogan: "Stay free."
For the most part, Switzerland has not been affected by the mass influx of asylum seekers and migrants into the EU.
Last year, Switzerland voted to curb the number of migrants allowed to enter the country in a referendum backed by the SVP.
More than half a million asylum seekers and migrants fleeing conflict in the Middle East, Asia and Africa have entered the EU since 2015, according to figures provided by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The 28-nation bloc's response to the wave of migration remains a contentious subject in Europe, with ex-communist countries staunchly opposed to refugee relocation measures.
Following Sunday's elections, the Swiss parliament will likely form a new government by December.
ls/tj (AFP, Reuters, dpa)