What’s so cosy about Swiss Government?
Cosy is the consensus politics which is so typical for Switzerland. The Swiss are masters of negotiating – and lovers of compromises. So it is not surprising that the Swiss are ambassadors between countries such as the U.S. and Cuba which have no direct diplomatic relationship. But this is beside the point. The term “consensus politics” describes the ongoing effort to achieve a balanced compromise among political parties and among the different cultural, linguistic and social communities that make up Switzerland. One of the most obvious aspects of the Swiss power-sharing system is the way in which the distribution of cabinet seats reflects the relative strengths of the political parties.
Now, the Swiss cabinet (Bundesrat) consists of seven Federal Representatives). Two of them officially represent the Swiss Peoples Party (SPP) that has become famos for its billboard compaign with the white sheep kicking out a black sheep out of the country. Christoph Blocher was the figurehead of the SPP which got almost 30% of the voter’s support during last October’s national elections of 200 MPs. It is thus the most powerful political party in Switzerland in terms of members of parliament.
Here comes the big surprise: The same parliament refused the reelection of Bundesrat Christoph Blocher! This has happened only the forth time in Swiss history. They elected a woman, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, finance minister of the Canton of Grisons and daughter of a former cabinet member, in an undercover campaign launched by exponents of the political left!
Left: The flag ship of the Canton of Grisons kicks out Blocher.
This prompted the Swiss Peoples Party to go into opposition against the members Samuel Schmid and Eveline Widmer, who are now elected as representatives of their own party. They want to be called an opposition party from now on. Something new in the consensus loving Swiss Confederation.
It takes money to launch People’s initiatives and referendums against decisions made by the new Cabinet. So watch out for some more political satire. Good luck, opposition rapper! 😉
Update November 17: Kidding aside. Bundesrat Blocher is going to run the office until the end of the year. He has gone back to statesmanship mode in the meantime. While the president of the SPP fraction, NR Caspar Baader, stirrs the drums for opposition loyalty within the party of Blocher, the humiliated cabinet member, Blocher himself now has toned down the opposition hype in the Sunday news. He is not interested in politics of obstruction. “This will not be beneficial for the people,” he said. This kind of moderation is probably a good move. For effective opposition campaigns, Blocher needs a mandate in parliament not just a presidency of the SPP party. And yeah, he still needs the whole party for that. People who step down for him to inherit a mandate is one thing, a loyal party without fracture is another thing.
Meanwhile, Widmer-Schlumpf will have to move from Chur, Grisons, to the capitol of Berne. Her son offered her a room in his apartment-share, she told the Monday press.