Communist Party of Switzerland

The Communist Party of Switzerland (German: Kommunistische Partei der Schweiz; KPS) or Swiss Communist Party (French: Parti communiste suisse; Italian: Partito Comunista Svizzero; PCS) was a communist party in Switzerland between 1921 and 1944. It was the Swiss section of the Communist International (Comintern).

Communist Party of Switzerland
Kommunistische Partei der Schweiz
Parti communiste suisse
Partito Comunista Svizzero
PresidentFranz Welti (first)
General SecretaryMarino Bodenmann (first)
Founded6 March 1921
Banned26 November 1940
Split fromPS/SP
Succeeded bySwiss Party of Labour
Membership (c. 1921[1])6,000
Political positionFar-left
International affiliationComintern


The Theater Neumarkt in Zürich, where the party was founded in 1921

The Communist Party of Switzerland was founded in March 1921,[1] by dissidents from the left wing of the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland and a group of Swiss communists formed in the aftermath of World War I.[2] Fritz Platten was a central leader in the new party.[3]

The party drew most of its support from urban areas in German-speaking Switzerland, most notably the cities of Basel, Schaffhausen and Zürich.[1] Shortly after its foundation, it counted six thousand members, of which 15% were women.[1] Through subsidiary organizations, the party gathered support from various groups, such as the unemployed, women and intellectuals.[1]

From the late 1920s to the early 1930s, the Communist Party's political program underwent a process of Stalinization.[1] A major turning point occurred in 1930, when the expulsion of Walther Bringolf led to the split of almost the entire Schaffhausen section into the Communist Party Opposition, which merged only five years later into the Social Democrats.[1] The number of party members and voters decreased progressively, though the adoption of popular front tactics in 1935 led to a slight increase in membership.[1] Nevertheless, the bans imposed by a number of cantons, as well as party policies such as moving away from anti-fascism (following the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact) and supporting the Soviet invasion of Finland weakened its popularity.[1]

In November 1940, the Swiss Communist Party was banned for its support of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, the non-aggression pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.[4][1] The ban had been preceded by the outlawing of communist propaganda and activities in Switzerland, in June 1940.[1] On 12 June 1941, all four communist members of the National Council were removed from office.[5] The party continued to operate illegally with about 350 members until 1944, when it merged with the Swiss Socialist Federation to form the Swiss Party of Labour.[1]

Role in the CominternEdit

Despite its small size, the Swiss Communist Party played an important role within the Comintern. After the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) was banned by the Nazi government, in 1933, its leadership in Southern Germany was sheltered by the Swiss communists in their exile.[1] The party also gave financial aid to some KPD officials and shelter to part of the German-based Comintern press agencies.[1]

During the Spanish Civil War, the party contributed to the International Brigades by assisting the mobilization of volunteers from Austria and other countries.[2][1]

Election resultsEdit

At the national level, the Swiss Communist Party had its best electoral performances in the 1920s.[1] In 1928, with 19,7% of the popular vote, it won 25 seats in the Grand Council of Basel-Stadt, the cantonal legislature of Basel-Stadt.[1] In the federal elections, the party received its highest vote share in that of 1939, the last it contested, winning four seats in the National Council, the lower chamber of the Federal Assembly; it was never elected into the Council States (upper chamber).[1]

National CouncilEdit

Election year % of overall vote # of seats won +/-
1922 1,8
2 / 198
1925 2,0
3 / 198
1928 1,8
2 / 198
1931 1,5
2 / 187
1935 1,4
2 / 187
1939 2,6
4 / 187
Source: Federal Statistical Office[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Communist Party in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  2. ^ a b Andrea Tognina (22 May 2021). "«Le Parti communiste suisse a fourni de nombreux cadres au Komintern»". Swissinfo. Retrieved 2 June 2022.
  3. ^ Zapantis, Andrew L. (1982). Greek-Soviet relations, 1917-1941. East European Monographs. p. 155. ISBN 9780880330046.
  4. ^ Molin, Karl (1982). Hemmakriget. Stockholm. p. 118. ISBN 91-550-2785-7.)
  5. ^ "Communists". The Federal Assembly — The Swiss Parliament. Retrieved 2 June 2022.