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Switzerland's biggest political force, the right-wing populist Swiss People's Party, kicked off its general election campaign with figurehead Christoph Blocher riding into Zurich's ice hockey arena on a tractor trailer.

The SVP, which looks set to increase its lead on its rivals in the October 22 general election, started out as a farmers' party.

But despite the rural theme of its campaign launch, it has come a long way from its origins and is now accused by some of skirting too close to the far-right.

Blocher, 82, an industrialist who made his fortune in the chemicals sector, took hold of the small agrarian party in the 1990s and transformed its outlook.

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