The SVP’s infamous posters in favour of the expulsion of foreign criminals caused controversy by showing a white sheep kicking a black sheep out of Switzerland.
But the highly visible shock campaign failed to convince voters, with nearly 59 percent of voters rejecting the initiative in February.
“We made considerable effort and that only stirred up our opponents who used it as scare tactics. We don’t want to make the same mistake,” SVP vice president Oskar Freysinger told newspaper 24 Heures.
Speaking to Le Matin, the party’s president Toni Brunner confirmed that it would not be using posters in public spaces to support its position in the run up to the next popular vote on June 5th.
On Monday the party launched its campaign for the next referendum. Among other things, it will fight against a proposed reform to the asylum law, backed by the federal government, which aims to speed up the asylum process and guarantee free legal advice for asylum seekers.
Explaining the decision not to deliver a nationwide paid-for poster campaign, SVP’s campaign chief Andreas Glarner, a hardliner who has previously campaigned against asylum seekers, told SonntagsBlick: “The people must know themselves what asylum policy they want,” he said.
“Does the electorate believe the authorities’ propaganda when they claim that free lawyers will speed up procedures? The SVP is no longer willing to make all the effort, as was the case for the vote on the [foreign criminals] project implementation,” he said.
The decision doesn’t mean that cantonal sections of the party cannot pay for their own publicity campaigns on the subject, however.
But many agree that throwing money at shock tactics does not work.
“Many people think we win thanks to money. We can do it thanks to our ideas,” Jean-Luc Addor, vice-president of the Valais section of the SVP, told 20 Minutes.
“We have noticed that shock posters play tricks on us. We saw that with the expulsion of foreign criminals,” added Kevin Grangier, general secretary of the SVP in the canton of Vaud.
The Swiss public will vote on five subjects on June 5th, including the implementation of a basic wage for every citizen and the modification of the law on assisted reproduction which would allow genetic testing on embryos.