Hello from Europe – 403 Days too Many – Switzerland defends it’s Democracy!

For a change “Europeanview” was absolutely absorbed in Swiss politics. Largely overlooked by the world, a real revolution has taken place in Berne. Minister Blocher was not reelected by the Federal Assembly.

Huh? Well, bear with me for a sec. I’ll give it to you in a nutshell:

Swiss politics work by way of a principle called Konkordanz, which means every party which has a sizeable number of parliamentarians will have a seat on the Bundesrat(Federal Council) which is in fact the government. As a rule, an incumbent does not lose his seat, ever.

But then, there is this party, the Swiss People’s Party, which was turned from a party for farmers and small business owners, into a nationalist fight club by a man named Christoph Blocher. Four years ago after this party had gained in the national elections Blocher forced himself into the Bundesrat.

There, leading the Department of Justice, he did his personal brand of “signing statements”, denounced the actions of the government that he himself was part of, ruled like a king, gave the impression that the constitution was a piece of paper at best. This year under his rule and with his money, he’s a billionaire, the SVP campaigned in an aggressive way not known before in Switzerland. They won 30 % of the seats and immediately started blackmailing the Parliament. If the ministers of the SVP, the moderate Samuel Schmid and Christoph Blocher, were not both reelected, the Party would immediately leave all government functions and would start opposing all politics done by the government. Should there be a member of the SVP staying in the federal council, he/she would lose her/his status as member of the parliamentary party. To cut it short they went a long way to say: Blocher – or else…!

The Federal Assembly chose “or else”. In a sensational move they voted for Mrs Widmer-Schlumpf a moderate and highly competent member of the SVP, without her even being in Berne at the time, let alone having accepted the candidacy. She was elected yesterday and immediately faced immense pressure from her own party not to accept. She asked to get time until today morning to think it through and today accepted and was sworn in. Samuel Schmid, who too had accpeted to stay in the Federal Council, as well as Mrs Widmer-Schlumpf have been kicked out of the SVP parliamentary party immediately after being sworn in.

The Swiss Federal Assembly, which consists of the Council of States and of the National Council, has shown a will to protect itself and Switzerland’s government from politics by blackmail, and from being used as a means to promote one single man’s wish for power. Well done!

14 thoughts on “Hello from Europe – 403 Days too Many – Switzerland defends it’s Democracy!

  1. Muse, no I don’t think it’s an accident. The Swiss are very pro American, but when it comes to their Democracy, they are particular. And with the trainwreck in Washington in plain view, they may have decided on a hefty tuck on the emergency brakes.

  2. We always appreciate your “European View”, ev. We learn more from you about the rest of the world (not to mention our own country) than we do from our own media. And we are all better for having you in our Zoo.

    Keep up the great work, Critter!

  3. EV – wonderful.

    I always look forward to your posts. It’s great to get a non-American view of what is happening on this planet. One that is not slanted by the right wing media. On Sunday mornings, it’s your post and a cup of coffee and I’m set for the day. Thanks.

  4. EV,
    We were on European assignment from 1983-1985 and in 1991 started to travel there every 4th year during the roll-up to Christmas season for about three weeks. Weihnachs Bazaar and visiting the spouse’s kin in Finland and Ireland had became a quadrennial event. This cycle (2007) we had to take a bye. The price of the tour had tripled from 2003. Thanks George.

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