“It’s a fine line”

Interview with Jürg Stahl

Jürg Stahl, President of the National Council, explains why pension scheme reform is so vitally important.

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Jürg Stahl

Jürg Stahl, President of the National Council

What do you expect 2017 to bring Switzerland in terms of...

...the country’s relationship to Europe?

That hinges on how the EU, as an institution, develops following a rather difficult year in 2016 and whether it is ready to ask itself self-critical questions on the topic of reforms. The relationship should normalize now that the National Council and the Council of States have cast their final vote on the mass immigration initiative – yet small Switzerland’s critical stance toward the big EU will remain. As their name indicates, bilateral agreements call for two parties and thus mutual satisfaction. It is particularly important that both sides of these agreements act in the best interests of their citizens!


...security policy?

Here, too, there are several different factors that need to be kept in mind, including some over which we have no direct influence. For instance, the impact of the new US president on Europe will only become apparent once he takes office. Switzerland has to continue building on its sensible security policy. That includes having a strong, well-equipped army made up of motivated individuals. The focus needs to be on Switzerland’s ability to be prepared to cope with a wide range of different threats.


...the current intergenerational contract and discussions about the pension scheme reform?

The pension scheme reform is certainly one of Switzerland’s main challenges in 2017. There is and always will be a fine line; we have to make the changes necessary without anybody losing out! The undisputed fact that, on average, we have the privilege of living longer lives means that the level-headed politicians in this country need to join forces to present voters with a solution with majority appeal.

 

What other issues will be on your mind and that of Swiss citizens this year?

The discussion on immigration isn’t over even though it’s passed through Parliament; if politicians fail to take citizens’ sociopolitical feelings on the topic seriously, this is something that will keep us busy for some time to come. Corporate Tax Reform III, geriatric nursing, healthcare costs and even volunteer work are some of the topics we will all have to address in 2017.

Which topics are most important for the Swiss economy?

We have to try to simplify how things work, both in the interest of business and society; more bureaucracy and requirements make for a more expensive, more complicated system. Switzerland has quite a lot of good companies with outstanding employees that are ready to tackle the future and we should really just let them work and be successful. Economic success that generates tax revenue and keeps unemployment figures down is a fundamental requirement for stability in social services, necessary societal reforms and investments in the future.

For years now you have been actively engaged in politics in order to promote sports and just recently took over as the President of Swiss Olympic: In your opinion, how realistic do you think Switzerland’s chances are in terms of making a bid to host the 2026 Olympic Games?

If Switzerland can agree on making a bid to host the Games in the spring and is able to present this bid both domestically and to an international committee in 2019 with a bit of charm, innovative spirit, modesty and mountain air, then I think the country has a very realistic chance of bringing the Olympic Winter Games to Switzerland in 2026. I not only think that creating a shared, emotional event for the coming generations is desirable, I actually think it’s our duty to do so. Switzerland can do it!

What are your own personal goals for your year in office?

One of my main priorities is to repeat the success of my first presidential session, namely to conduct meetings calmly, correctly and with all due efficiency. My hope is that my low-key demeanor appeals to people in our country who do their “jobs” day in, day out, regardless of whether those jobs are at a desk, in their families, within a group of friends, in the neighborhood, in the community or in clubs. Because these are the people who are responsible for our magnificent country’s success and these people deserve to be listened to and understood. There are so many things that work. And people have so much positive energy – it’s important that we shift our focus back to that rather than constantly falling prey to envy and negativity. With that in mind, I try to send brief messages to motivate people to continue advocating democracy, freedom and our achievements!

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