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Swiss police, protestors clash at election rally

Police in the Swiss capital, Bern, on Saturday clashed with left-wing protestors who tried to interrupt a planned election rally by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, the official Swissinfo website reported.

More than 20 policemen and protestors were injured in the skirmishes, a police spokesman was quoted by the website as saying. Several dozen protestors were detained for questioning. The clash happened as several hundred left-wing protestors tried to prevent the estimated 10,000 People’s Party supporters from marching through the streets of Bern to gather outside the parliament building. Police had to fire teargas at the protestors, who went on a rampage and destroyed infrastructure for the planned rally on Parliament Square. The protesters also hurled rocks and bottles at security forces, Swissinfo said. The violence is the latest sign of rising tensions ahead of an unusually divisive parliamentary election later this month.

The right-wing Swiss People’s Party is the biggest of the four governing parties in Switzerland. The party has gained popularity in recent years with its anti-European stance and its nationalist and isolationist message. It won 26.7% of the votes in the 2003 parliamentary elections and is likely to keep its position in the forthcoming ballot on Oct. 21. Other major parties in Switzerland include the Social Democratic Party, the Liberal Party, the Christian Democratic Party and the Green Party. (