The Conservative Democratic Party of Switzerland (German: Bürgerlich-Demokratische Partei Schweiz, BDP; French: Parti bourgeois démocratique suisse, PBD; Italian: Partito Borghese Democratico Svizzero, PBD; Romansh: Partida burgais democratica Svizra PBD , PBD; all translations mean literally Swiss Democratic Bourgeois Party) is a conservative political party in Switzerland. Since the 2015 General election, the BDP has had seven members in the National Council and one in the Council of States.
It was founded as a moderate splinter group from the national-conservative Swiss People's Party (SVP), and was founded as a political party on the federal level on 1 November 2008. It is led by Martin Landolt, and had, until January 2016, one Federal Councillor, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, whose election in defiance of the SVP incumbent Christoph Blocher led to the creation of the party. It comprises most of the SVP's old centrist-agrarian wing, which had been overshadowed in recent years by its nationalist-activist wing.
The party's name in German, French, Italian and Romansh comes from "bourgeois", the traditional European term for a centre-right party.
Soon after Widmer-Schlumpf's election to the Federal Council, the SVP excluded both her and the SVP's other Federal Councillor, Samuel Schmid, from the party group. Schmid, like Widmer-Schlumpf, was a member of the SVP's moderate wing, and the SVP's dominant nationalist wing reckoned them both as unrepresentative of the SVP's populist campaigns. Some SVP members demanded that Widmer-Schlumpf and Schmid be thrown out of the party altogether. However, Swiss parties are legally federations of cantonal parties, and the SVP could not expel them directly. For them to have been expelled, the party's Graubünden and Bern sections, to which Widmer-Schlumpf and Schmid belonged respectively, would have had to expel them.
On 2 April 2008 the national SVP leadership called for Widmer-Schlumpf to immediately resign from both the Federal Council and the party. When Widmer-Schlumpf declined to do so, the national SVP demanded that the Graubünden branch expel her. The Graubünden section stood by Widmer-Schlumpf, and was expelled from the national SVP on June 1.
On 16 June 2008, the delegates' convention of the SVP's former Graubünden branch voted to change its name to BPS Graubünden (Conservative Party of Switzerland-Graubünden), becoming the first cantonal section of what would become the BDP. A second cantonal section was founded in Bern on 21 June 2008 under the name BDP (Conservative Democratic Party); the change from BPS to BDP was due to a name conflict with the extant minor party Bürgerpartei Schweiz (Citizen's Party of Switzerland), which has the same acronym BPS. As a result, the Graubünden branch also changed its name to BDP Graubünden. Soon afterward, nearly all of the SVP's Bern section, including Schmid, defected to the new party.
Eleven other cantonal branches have been founded, predominantly in German-speaking Switzerland: Aargau, Basel-Landschaft, Fribourg, Glarus, Lucerne, Schwyz, Solothurn, St. Gallen, Thurgau, Valais, and Zürich.
The BDP supports bilateral accords with the European Union, and it opposes the tightening of Switzerland's asylum. It opposes additional benefits to health insurance, although it does not necessarily support limiting them. The BDP supports the raising of the retirement age, opposes any relaxation to requirements to receive social welfare, and supports same-sex marriage.
Seventeen members of the Grand Council of Bern defected to the BDP from the SVP. In the 2010 election, the number of BDP councillors increased to 25, making the BDP the third-largest party in Bern, behind the SVP and Social Democratic Party
Having been founded by the mass defection of the local SVP, the Conservative Democrats are also the third-largest delegation in the Grand Council of Graubünden, with 30 seats, behind the Christian Democratic People's Party and FDP.The Liberals. The BDP is also the third-largest party in the Cantonal Council of neighbouring Glarus, with ten of the legislature's sixty seats.