Authoritarian Populism Index.

The Authoritarian Populism Index is developed by Timbro.

Timbro is the leading free market think tank in the Nordic countries. Our mission is to promote and disseminate ideas supporting the principles of free markets, free enterprise, individual liberty and a free society. Timbro was founded in 1978 by Sture Eskilsson and the Swedish Employers’ Association, a precursor to the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.  Since 2003, Timbro is financed by the Swedish Free Enterprise Foundation.


International outreach and translation supported by Friedrich Naumann Foundation and Atlas Network.


Populism Rank: 13


Voter support for radical left in last elections (2023): -0,4%.
Voter support for radical right in last elections: +1,1%.
Populist or radical parties in government (March 2024): none

01 Speakers

Switzerland stands out from other countries in the study due to its constitution and democratic structure. Power is highly decentralised, with weak central authority relative to the regional cantons, and direct democracy is heavily utilised through frequent referendums. The country operates as a combination of representative and direct democracy, with a unique system of governance led by a permanent coalition government representing major parties.

Switzerland is included in the study from 1971, after becoming the last country in Europe to grant women the right to vote. While several smaller parties have challenged the dominant ones without significant success at the national level, Switzerland is also home to one of Europe’s earliest and most successful anti-establishment parties.


The Swiss People’s Party (SVP) emerged in 1971 from a merger of agrarian and social liberal factions, already from the beginning harbouring tensions between conservatism and liberalism. Its electoral fortunes rose sharply in the 1980s, propelled by its hardline stances on immigration and elitism. In 1999, the SVP for the first time became Switzerland’s largest party, a position they have maintained in every election since then.

A screenshot featuring one of SVP’s most criticised campaign. 

Under the leadership of Christoph Blocher, SVP shifted its focus and maintained policy victories without moderating its rhetoric or losing voter support. The party has long campaigned against immigration with nationalist or xenophobic tones. It opposes immigration both on economic and cultural grounds. In recent years it has opposed the strict COVID-19 measures, and resisted sanctions against Russia, while adhering to conservative social views. The SVP is basically to the right on economic issues, advocating reduced welfare benefits and tax cuts, but they are also relatively protectionist and in favour of subsidies to farmers. It is not only one of the most eurosceptic parties in Switzerland; it is also critical of any international involvement by the country whatsoever.


In the 1980s and early 1990s, the SVP was challenged by a few minor right wing populist parties, namely the Swiss Democrats and the Freedom Party of Switzerland. These parties never got more than three and five percent, respectively.

EP elections

Not a member of the European Union


SVP summary

Economics: RIGHT
Social issues: CONSERVATIVE
Democratic credibility: MEDIUM