“I hope to see constructive debates”

“I hope to see constructive debates”

President of the National Council, Christa Markwalder, talks about the Swiss success story and points out which areas she considers most urgently in need of reform.

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President of the National Council Christa Markwalder

President of the National Council Christa Markwalder

The Swiss economy is currently burdened by the strong Swiss franc, an uncertain investment environment and an unresolved relationship to Europe:

The Swiss economy has held up well in the past few years – even during the financial and economic crisis. We are still one of the most innovative and competitive countries in the world. Our commitment, Swiss quality, our capacity for innovation and our open-mindedness have helped us write Switzerland’s success story. That hasn’t always been the case – as evidenced by a glance back at the 1990s. Some key reforms enacted at the time, namely the opening of several markets, liberalizations and privatizations, put us in a relatively good position today. So good, in fact, that a number of popular initiatives have been adopted which enjoyed broad support yet are having a detrimental impact on the location. The Minder, Second Home and Mass Immigration initiatives are harmful to the country’s hallmarks of excellence as a business domicile: political stability and reliability. While the strong currency represents another contributing factor, it is not the main problem. Instead, we need to use political means to re-establish reliable conditions for our enterprises to ensure an investment climate of warm summer breezes rather than icy gusts.

Which reforms do you consider most urgent with respect to Switzerland as a place of business, ensuring pensions and our relationship to Europe?

Those are certainly the most important challenges. I’d also add the 2050 energy strategy and Corporate Tax Reform III as major parliamentary reform projects. Both of them are eminently important to Switzerland as a business location. After all, we want to preserve the country’s attractive, competitive tax environment while also reforming the pension system in such a way that our good 3-pillar concept won’t have to rely on the contribution of additional funds by the younger generation after 2030.

Sometime during the next year and in the interest of the business location we also have to clarify our relationship to Europe which, after the adoption of the Mass Immigration Initiative, initially means saving the bilateral agreements. This is vital because they safeguard our prosperity, and that is something we don’t want to do without.

What other major challenges do you see facing our country?

We’re actually a young country – Switzerland as we currently know it hasn’t existed since 1291, rather since the 1815 Congress of Vienna where our modern-day borders were drawn. Even if “Swissness” is experiencing a veritable boom right now, I still feel our “Cohésion nationale” takes top priority in a multilingual country that is also dedicated to its minorities.

Unfortunately, in light of our increasingly conflict-torn world, we will also have to give serious thought to the influx of refugees. People from war zones rarely leave their home countries voluntarily. They seek protection in and admission to European countries because an open, democratic society is also something that they commonly value. If we can demand that our rules and social order be respected, we can shape a peaceful coexistence. Despite the challenges of its political reality, Switzerland still shouldn’t lose sight of its humanitarian tradition.

Where do you think the political priorities of the newly constituted Parliament and Federal Council will lie?

During the 50th legislative period I hope to see the new Parliament engaging in constructive debates to find lasting solutions and positive reforms for our country. We want to work together to help promote our country, albeit using different value systems and recipes to do so, yet in the end these efforts should culminate in concrete results that benefit Switzerland.I expect the Federal Council to engage in friendly collaboration, a good, intense dialog with Parliament as well as a courteous attitude on the part of political parties who feel adequately represented in our government.

As President of the National Council, what are your own personal goals for your year in office?

I have set myself one main goal for my presidential year and expressed it in my motto: respect. We need respect in our personal and professional lives, toward linguistic minorities, toward political institutions, toward our Federal Constitution and international law. Greater respect simplifies our lives!

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