Bern was beset by rioters aiming to thwart a pre-election rally by the rightist Swiss People’s Party, expected to dominate this month's elections with its xenophobic platform. Masked protesters threw bricks and gas bombs and outwitted police by operating in small groups and destroying the party stage. The mayor admitted “impotence” in controlling the weekend riots, reports the Guardian.
The Swiss People's Party has made electoral gains with its recent anti-foreigner campaign, including a widely reported poster of three white sheep nudging a black sheep off a Swiss flag. It has also campaigned to outlaw minarets and to deport the families of convicted immigrants. Its blunt rhetoric that foreigners “are shamelessly abusing Swiss hospitality” has attracted UN condemnation.