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Swiss government moves to right as anti-immigrant party gains extra cabinet post

Switzerland's government has lurched to the right with the Swiss People's Party (SVP) picking up a second seat in the seven-member cabinet. The eurosceptic party won nearly 30 percent of the vote in October elections.

The Swiss parliament elected the Swiss People's Party's (SVP) Guy Parmelin to the cabinet on Wednesday, making him the second member of the eurosceptic party to gain a seat on the seven-member Federal Council alongside Defense Minister Ueli Maurer.

Switzerland's parliament has traditionally elected council members from across the political spectrum to ensure stability.

Schweiz Parlament wählt neue Regierung

Swiss parliament

The left of center Social Democrats maintained two seats, as did the pro-business Liberal Democrats, while the centrist Christian Democrats have one seat. Those positions will be taken by incumbents.

The SVP rode to success on an anti-immigration, anti-EU platform that

secured the party a record 65 seats in the 200-seat lower house in October elections.

The SVP has vowed to protect Switzerland from immigrants from the Middle East and Africa coming to Switzerland.

The party would like to limit closer ties with the EU as well as curb the number of workers from the 28-nation bloc by renegotiating a quota treaty with Brussels. Nearly a quarter of the Alpine nation's 8.2 million population consists of foreigners.

Parmelin, a wine grape grower from a French speaking region near Lausanne, replaces finance minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, a former moderate from the SVP, who broke away in 2007 to form her own Conservative Democratic Party (BDP), which fared poorly in the elections.

The SVP had complained that they were underrepresented in the council since 2007.

"Considering the European migration crisis, a heightened threat level and a difficult economic situation, it is important that the four biggest parties are represented according to their voter support," the SVP said in its first reaction to picking up a second cabinet seat.

The Liberal's Johann Schneider-Ammann was elected president of the Swiss Federation, a largely powerless position that rotates among the seven members of the council.

The SVP's electoral success comes as link:18899950:populist anti-immigration and eurosceptic parties across Europe ride a wave of public anxiety# over a massive influx of migrants and asylum seekers to the continent.

Support for right-wing parties has been on the rise in France, Poland, Austria, the UK and

Germany.
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cw/jil (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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