The reports about Andrew Brunson’s release are just another example of how little the media know about evangelical churches.
The Evangelical People’s Party in Switzerland will be 100 years old in 2019. Perceived as centrist, almost all of its membership comes from the Protestant Church and free evangelical churches.
This is the second article of the “Political parties with a Christian worldview” series. These articles will introduce Evangelical Focus readers to political parties in European countries which hold to a Protestant or evangelical ‘ethos’.
THE EVANGELICAL PEOPLE’S PARTY (Switzerland)
- Name: Evangelische Volkspartei der Schweiz, EVP Schweiz (in English: Evangelical People’s Party Switzerland)
- Country: Switzerland
- Motto: “Aus Leidenschaft für Mensch und Umwelt. Für Gerechtigkeit, Nachhaltigkeit und Menschenwürde.” (“Passionate about people and the environment. For justice, sustainability and human dignity“)
- Year of foundation: 1919
- Secretary General: Dominik Währy (From 1st Juli, 2018: Roman Rutz)
- Number of party members: 4,495
PRESENCE IN SOCIETY
- Percentage of vote in last national election: 1,9 %
- Seats in national parliament: 2
- Seats in regional parliaments/chambers: 37
- Seats in town halls (cities, towns…): Executive: 66 / Legislative: 150
- Region in the country where the party has the highest support at the moment: Canton Bern
VALUES AND POLICIES
- Ideological “tag”: Conservative, Ecological, Social.
- Short history and vision. Since 1919, the EVP has been based on Christian values for a Switzerland in which it is worth living. The vision of the party is: “Passion for people and the environment. For justice, sustainability and human dignity”. Our mission is: “Our Christian faith frees us to work with hope and allows us to look forward to the future with confidence”. We stand for individual responsibility in our actions, for the wellbeing of our fellow human beings and for our environment.
The EVP is a people’s party for the people. We are convinced that the Christian faith has to lead to specific political engagements. As a party in the centre and based on values, we stand in for the weak and the unprivileged, for creation care, personal responsibility and a social market economy. We protect the family and the human life. Our conscience comes before our interests, and the person comes before power. Solutions need to be found to serve the wellbeing of the person.
- What role does the Bible and the Christian worldview have in the definition of the party’s policies?
In the Bible we do not find political recipes, but we do find basic values for the coexistence such as honesty, responsibility, love for our neighbour, justice, sustainability, solidarity and peace.
Women and men of different generations and geographical backgrounds, from all kind of Protestant and free evangelical churches, come together to serve in the EVP. They share a common understanding of their responsibility in politics and society. Faith frees us to take action, faith does not allow us to give up.
- According to the party, how should the relationship between the state and the Christian churches look like?
We defend that the state should protect religious freedom.
The EVP is producing a Charter about religion and the foundation for a possible article for the basic law. It defines the place of religion in society in a positive light.
The Charta defends the right to change religion and the freedom of belief and of conscience for everyone. It is against anti-discrimination laws that restrict religious freedom and freedom of speech. It defends the right to choose and live out a religion in the public space.
In addition, we believe the Christian heritage and traditions should be protected and received (for example, days of prayer, religion classes in schools and wearing symbols in public spaces).
- What are the biggest priorities of the party? (selected among given categories): Environmental care, family and life, protection of the vulnerable and integration of refugees/migrants.
- What is the profile of your average party member? (Kathrin Meier, 2013) The average member of the EVP is 56 years old (older than in other Swiss political parties). More than half of the membership is in the Cantons of Bern (capital city) and Zurich. About half of the members have a university degree or a professional school degree. Most members of the party would not define themselves in terms of political left or right, and see the party as being in the centre of the political spectrum.
- Do you have indicators that give you a sense of the party’s support it gets from the evangelical or Protestant churches/organisations in the country? (Kathrin Meier, 2013) 99’8% of the members of the EVP belong to Christian churches. 49.2% belong to the historic Protestant Church and another 49.2% to free evangelical churches; 1.4% of the members belong to the Roman Catholic Church.
- According to the party, what is the biggest threat for the country at the moment? The distance between rich and poor. The misuse of natural resources.
- According to the party, what is the greatest opportunity for the country, at the moment? The digitalisation.
- Does the party work in coalition with other parties in your country?
The EVP Switzerland works with other parties in common issues, and works in coalition with other parties in referendums for or against a certain policy. In the election, the EVP sometimes joins with other small parties to form coalitions. In the National Parliament, the EVP works in the same fraction as the Christian People’s Party (CVP).
Questionnaire answered by Dirk Meisel, Communications director of EVP.
Evangelical Focus does not necessarily endorse the policies of the parties cited in this series of articles. Our aim is to give information about different political movements formed by Christians, and about how they interact with other actors in the public arena as they seek to serve the broader society.