Former federal councilors criticize government – ​​except for Calmy-Rey / Blocher

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Switzerland – EU

Former Federal Councilors Ogi, Koller and Leuenberger surprise with fierce criticism of the termination of the framework agreement – but there is also unexpected praise

Old Federal Councilors traditionally stay out of day-to-day politics. But now several ex-magistrates are criticizing the termination of negotiations with the EU on a framework agreement. Only an extremely unequal duo supports the current government.

The current Federal Council is getting a lot of incomprehension from former members for the break-off of the framework agreement negotiations with the EU.

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It’s just an unwritten law. However, most members of the state government adhere to this and no longer comment on current political issues after leaving the Federal Council. At least not in public (see box below).

But now five old Federal Councilors are breaking this unwritten law. Specifically, in a podcast published by SRF on Friday, they commented on the EU negotiations on a framework agreement that were unilaterally broken off by the Federal Council almost a year and a half ago.

Federal councilors should negotiate in Brussels themselves

And what the former members of the state government say about the decision of the current Federal Council has it all:

“The Federal Council has to pee in its pants”

Former SVP Federal Councilor Adolf Ogi would have liked a referendum on the framework agreement.

Former SVP Federal Councilor Adolf Ogi would have liked a referendum on the framework agreement.

key stone

… thinks about former Federal Councilor Adolf Ogi (in office 1987-2000). What the former SVP magistrate means: The negotiations with the EU should finally become a top priority. In other words, the members of the Swiss government should make personal representations in Brussels and no longer simply send State Secretary Livia Leu ahead.

And the fact that the negotiations with Switzerland’s most important trading partner were simply called off by Parliament is also not going to work. Adolf Ogi in a radio report broadcast on the same day in the program “Rendez-vous”:

“The framework agreement should have been in front of the people.”

According to the 80-year-old Federal Councilor from Bern, his party trusts the people to make the right decision in other ways.

“People’s no better than Federal Council no”

Former Federal Councilor Arnold Koller (1987-1999) shared this opinion. Like Ogi, the now 89-year-old from St.Gallen was in office when Switzerland’s refusal to join the European Economic Area (EEA) in 1992 set the course for Europe for the last three decades.

Federal Councilor Arnold Koller (r.) at the press conference in Bern after the popular no to the EEA on December 6, 1992.

Federal Councilor Arnold Koller (r.) at the press conference in Bern after the popular no to the EEA on December 6, 1992.

key stone

“A popular no would have been better than a Federal Council no”

… Koller puts it on record in the SRF podcast. According to the CVP man, such a move would have weakened Switzerland’s negotiating position less than the Federal Council’s unilateral rejection after the conclusion of negotiations on a framework agreement. Because: “It would have been democratically legitimized.”

Former Federal Councilor Moritz Leuenberger (1995-2010) also comments on the Federal Council’s European policy in the podcast. The Zurich social democrat prefaced his statement with the opinion that former members of the government should generally refrain from making statements. But then Leuenberger says:

“I got really excited.”

Former SP Federal Councilor Moritz Leuenberger shows no understanding for the actions of the state government.  (archive image)

Former SP Federal Councilor Moritz Leuenberger shows no understanding for the actions of the state government. (archive image)

Tom Ulrich

This is also because the state government did not just “simply get out”, according to Moritz Leuenberger. But also because the current Federal Council “didn’t even say what he actually wanted,” the 76-year-old comrade criticizes the current government.

The former government members Micheline Calmy-Rey (SP) and Christoph Blocher (SVP) - here in Parliament in 2007 - are for once of the same opinion.

The former government members Micheline Calmy-Rey (SP) and Christoph Blocher (SVP) – here in Parliament in 2007 – are for once of the same opinion.

key stone

All in all, three times the heavy fare for the Federal Council. But the current state government is not standing there with its pants completely sawn off. Federal President Ignazio Cassis and his colleagues receive support from a surprising duo: Micheline Calmy-Rey (2003-2011) and Christoph Blocher. The SVP doyen and the former SP foreign minister agree for once that breaking off negotiations with the EU on a framework agreement made sense:

“The framework agreement has divided everyone”

… says the 77-year-old social democrat to Radio SRF. In this situation, it made sense for Switzerland to unilaterally stop this exercise after seven years.

And Christoph Blocher (2003-2007) – after all, her former, worst opponent in the state government – argues that the framework agreement had no chance anyway. This failed because of the same fundamental issue as EEA accession. Namely, whether an EU institution should ultimately have the last word with the European Court of Justice in disputes:

“In principle, the decisive factor is: are we obliged to adopt EU law in this area, yes or no?”

… says the now 81-year-old Zurich SVP father. If Switzerland had to accept such a loss of sovereignty, a treaty would be “fundamentally lost”.

Since the negotiations for a framework agreement with the EU were broken off almost a year and a half ago, Switzerland doesn’t seem to have made any real progress. Almost a year ago, after an exam, she presented a “Plan B” on the relationship between Bern and Brussels. But even the first exploratory talks in Brussels have so far not brought any breakthrough in the dossier, which has been blocked for years.

From AHV to marriage penalties to energy policy: old federal councilors keep breaking the informal rule

last it has Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf (2008-2015) done again. In the ongoing referendum campaign on the AHV reform, the former BDP Federal Councilor criticized women who reject an increase in the retirement age for women. After all, the 66-year-old from Graubünden is on course with the current state government.

Just like 2020 Ruth Dreifuss (1993-2002): Together with her party and the Federal Council, the 82-year-old socialist fought in vain for a reform of old-age provision. Dreifuss is also on the line of the Federal Council, as the Geneva native recently met with a former government colleague Joseph Deiss (1999-2006) defended Switzerland’s accession to the UN 20 years ago. Since leaving the state government, the 76-year-old former CVP member of the Bundestag has continued to whine about joining the EU, which he favors.

Ruth Metzler (1999-2003) made a brief political comeback last year after a long period of silence with the launch of the Individual Taxation Initiative for Married People. The 58-year-old CVP representative worked alongside the FDP women.

Also last year, a former Federal Councilor contacted me Doris Leuthard (1999-2006) back in day-to-day politics. The 59-year-old former Aargau CVP magistrate criticized after the popular no to the CO2-Law the energy policy of her successor Simonetta Sommaruga (SP).

The now 80-year-old liberal has never minced his words Pascal Couchepin (1998-2009) and Christopher Blocher. Even after leaving government, both regularly and pointedly comment on current political issues in the media. The 81-year-old from Zurich, SVP-Deoyen, has also liked to appear in his own weekly newspapers and on his own channel “TeleBlocher” since he was voted out. (WAP/SAT)

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