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Ring of Independents

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Ring of Independents

The Ring of Independents (German: Landesring der Unabhängigen (LdU), French: Alliance des Indépendants (AdI)) was a Swiss social liberal[1] political party that existed between 1936 and 1999.

History of the party

Formation

The founder of Migros, Gottlieb Duttweiler was dissatisfied with the state of Swiss politics in the 1930s and therefore founded the Ring of Independents with a group of like-minded people as an association. It was not meant to be a political party at first but to be an association to help to reconcile capitalists and workers. Nonetheless the party won seven seats in the elections for the National Council of Switzerland in 1935 (although the seats were won in only 3 cantons of 26: 5 in Zürich, 1 each in St. Gallen and Bern). Since the original plan, to unite the best politicians of all parties in one group, did not work the party Ring of Independents was founded on December 30, 1936.

Duttweiler Era

Duttweiler's authoritarian style of leadership combined with his vague political positions lead to a breakaway of leading figures from the party in 1943. These ran as Unabhängig-freie Liste (Eng: Independent- Free List) and won one seat in the elections for the National Council of Switzerland the following autumn. However this breakaway did not manage to exist for long. During the era of Duttweiler the party always won around 5% of the vote. However the party was never successful in the French or Italian speaking regions of Switzerland and in central Switzerland (except in Lucerne).

The social liberal phase after Duttweiler

After the death of longtime chairman Duttweiler in 1962, the party was able to establish itself as a social liberal alternative between the left and the right. It won 9.1% and 16 seats out of 200 in the 1967 elections to the National Council of Switzerland, thus becoming the strongest opposition party. The ROI was mainly voted for by urban middle-class voters (blue collar workers, civil servants). Several new local affiliates in different cantons were founded in this time. In the late 1970s a conflict over policy broke out in the party. The traditional opponents of Social market economy were confronted by a new ecological wing of the party.

The green-social liberal phase

In the mid-1980s the ecological wing of the party became the most dominant. Already in 1982 members of the green and social liberal wings of the party resigned. Since the biggest financial backer of the party, Migros, had ideological problems with the ecologcal wing of the party it massively reduced its donations to the party. Due to financial problems the daily newspaper of the party Die Tat (The Deed) had to be converted to a weekly newspaper. The party lost its profile and its voters switched to new parties and protest groups (Green Party, Car Party).

Decline and disbandment

The party continued to lose more and more of its voters to the Social Democratic & Green parties. In the 1990s the party tried unsuccessfully to win back these voters by returning to their social liberal roots. Following numerous election loses and defections of prominent politicians to other parties the ROI disbanded on December 4, 1999.

Chairmen

  • 1936–1962 Gottlieb Duttweiler (Zürich)
  • 1962–1973 Rudolf Suter (Basel)
  • 1973–1978 Claudius Alder (Basel-Country)
  • 1978–1985 Walter Biel (Zürich)
  • 1985–1992 Franz Jaeger (St. Gallen)
  • 1992–1996 Monika Weber (Zürich)
  • 1996–1998 Daniel Andres (Berne)
  • 1999 Anton Schaller (Zürich)

References

  • J. Meynaud/A. Korff: Die Migros und die Politik. Der LdU. Zürich 1967
  • H.G. Ramseier: Die Entstehung und Entwicklung des LdU bis 1943. Zürich, 1973
  • E. Gruner: Die Parteien in der Schweiz. Bern, 1977
  • Frank Wende: Lexikon zur Geschichte der Parteien in Europa. Seiten 614/615. Stuttgart 1981. ISBN 3-520-81001-8

External links

  • Landesring der Unabhängigen (LdU) in Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  • 1987–2003 from Jahrbuch Schweizerische Politik
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