The conservative right Swiss People's Party has been dealt a heavy blow after its provocative vice-president, Oskar Freysinger, failed to retain his seat in elections in canton Valais. Sunday's deselection reflects how Switzerland's system of democracy keeps in check politicians who are deemed to have gone too far.

Freysinger, 56, has spearheaded many People's Party campaigns and has been a leading member of a committee that led a successful campaign to ban minarets in 2009 and that is now seeking a ban on the Islamic face veil.

Swiss newspapers on Monday were surprised that Freysinger's career had even lasted as long as it had. This, the Tages-Anzeiger and Der Bund pointed out, was a man who proudly displayed in his home a flag used by Neo-Nazis, who relativised the Armenian genocide and who worked closely with someone who denied the Srebrenica massacre.

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