22 October 2007

Swiss Election Results

Well, it is interesting to see that the election results in my home country Switzerland are so closely scrutinized here at the other end of the world. The Swiss People's Party may have achieved a resounding success, but I consider it to be a sad sign. It shows what the money backed demagoguery of a billionaire can achieve. As almost everywhere, when we are confronted with new challenges, like climate change, global integration and a declining economy, polarizing the argument and scapegoating immigrants always works - sadly. The only solutions the Swiss People's Party seems to promote is turning back the wheel of time, and kicking out the foreigners. Given the complex changes that are needed to address the problems we face nowadays, this seems to be a simple way out for many people, without having to face reality.

This is also a sad sign, because it shows that there is no real political leadership and vision from the established parties, particularly by the Social Democrats, who were the leading (largest) party for many years. The only exception is maybe the emerging Green Party, which did very well, increasing both voter percentage as well as seats in parliament. While the Greens just missed the 10% mark, it needs to be noted that a fraction that recently split off the main Green Party, the newly constituted Green-Liberal Party, also achieved 3 seats in Parliament.

While the Green emergence is slow yet steady and unstoppable, we shouldn't be worried too much by the backlash of the electoral success by the rightwing People's Party. The political system in Switzerland is very stable, and deeply rooted in local politics. This is also reflected in the Swiss economy, with the Swiss Franc being one of the most stable currencies around the planet. Switzerland is also the only country that never felt threatended by one of the Depression era local currency systems: WIR - all others, among them the JAK in Denmark, Wära in Germany and Wörgl in Austria were soon abolished by the political authorities. WIR has flurished and undergone changes over the decades and is now a firmly established player in the economy. In modern day Switzerland there are also a number of experimental local currencies, modeled on timebanking and others.

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