A pro-migrant protest turned violent today, with Swiss police forced to use water cannon and rubber bullets to quell the self-described ‘anti-fascists’ who violated law by demonstrating on an election day.
Hundreds of the hard-left protesters, and a group calling themselves ‘The Revolutionary Youth’ gathered in the Swiss capital of Bern to call for German-style mass immigration and a change in asylum policy. The group started to violently clash with local police at around 2pm.
Around 110 people were arrested or detained, local publication Blick reports. A Bern police spokesman referred to “violent attacks” on officers and a “great potential for violence.”
— SRF News (@srfnews) October 17, 2015
The protesters defied an election time ban on demonstrations in Switzerland, and were accompanied by young children when they turned to violence, Switzerland Radio Und Fernsehen reported.
“You’re the Nazis in this city. Anti-democratic, para-militarist, martial, intolerant, violent. Epic fail,” tweeted local Tom Waelti.
Today’s election is widely expected to see the conservative Swiss People’s Party (SVP) further cement their position as the country’s dominant political force.
A poll by research institute Gfs.Bern showed the SVP increasing their share of the national vote to 27.9 percent, up from 26.6 in 2011.
“That is fueled by several things but in part Euroscepticism,” Charles Lichfield, an associate at political risk research and consulting firm Eurasia told Yahoo News.
“There’s a feeling that Switzerland should not be pushed around by Brussels.”
The SVP is already the largest party in Switzerland’s lower house of parliament. However, the power of elected representatives in Switzerland is significantly limited because so many important decisions are taken via referendum according to the nation’s tradition of direct democracy.