Election season in Switzerland takes some getting used to for an American immigrant. The hateful propaganda hanging around town seems more accepted and acceptable than in the US (but then they don't have the hateful TV spots that the US has.) And their candidate photos seem amateurish in their forthrightness and lack of photoshop. Living in Zürich, there's a large representation among the cheesy grins and stray hairs of Alternative Liste (AL) candidates on our billboards.
There are 13 political parties in Switzerland at the federal and cantonal level and minority political parties. The Alternative Liste (AL) is one of the major parties and is most strongly represented in Zürich and Schaffhausen. It was established in 1990, which sounds even more recent when one remembers that the Switzerland was founded in the 13th century. They were established with the help of a member of the Progressive Organization of Switzerland, which sounds far more mainstream to my ears.
When I was in the States, I used to think that we could do with a multiparty system. Little did I know that living in a country that has them, comes with a fun internet questionnaire! Ivo and I - as non-citizens of one another's countries - have always voted together. If we are in agreement on a referendum or candidate, we fill in the vote, if we disagree, we leave it blank. Back when we met in 2004, Ivo and I were politically quite similar. But then I moved here and became markedly more conservative (everything here is wonderful - why change it?!) Now we can take a quiz online and be told which politicians most agree with our views. The Alternative Liste is a saving grace for us, when Ivo is still reeling from the discovery of the percentage of similarities between myself and the religious parties.
Here, one votes for parties and people, but assignments are given after the election. For example, we elected AL member Richard Wolff, a fairly liberal politician who'd previously lead campaign and research for transport, environmental and tenant cooperative associations, to city counsel. There, instead of being appointed to a position that would suit his previous experience, he was appointed to be police commissioner and expected to fail. Instead he has flourished. (I'm realizing as I write this that I don't know if that is different to the system of city counsels at home or not and am very embarrassed.)
In 2009, they were responsible for the referendum to repeal the flat tax for millionaires. In 2011, they nearly won a parliamentary majority when they formed a coalition with the Pirate party.