A populist party in Geneva, which campaigned against workers from France who cross into Switzerland, has emerged as the big winner in local elections in the city.

The party, the Geneva Citizens' Movement (MCG), with its slogan "Geneva and Genevans first", increased its representation in the western Swiss city's parliament from nine to 17 seats with almost 15 per cent of votes.

The MCG has argued there is a direct link between French workers crossing the border and the unemployment rate in the city (seven per cent compared with a Swiss nationwide jobless rate of 3.9 per cent).

The party's president, Eric Stauffer, said that there was a risk that Geneva would become an "overflow for France's 2.9 million unemployed".

The MCG is now the second-strongest party in the Geneva parliament behind the Liberals with 20 seats (-3).

The rightwing Swiss People's Party, which recently branded French workers from the border town of Annemasse as "scum", lost two seats and is now represented with nine seats.

Before Sunday's elections, the mayor of Annemasse, Christian Dupessey, had announced he would make an official complaint and said the People's Party had crossed a line, using a xenophobic approach to "incite hatred".