Swiss Democracy- or the small difference

by jun asuncion, zürich (written last Dec.12,2007)Today the Swiss parliament elected their seven federal councillors. A woman politician won a seat unexpectedly in favor of a much  controversial candidate from her own political party- the Schweizerische Volkspartei ( Swiss People’s Party) SVP . She was  at this very moment not in Bundeshaus, Federal Building, but on a train heading to Bern, the country’s capital and seat of the federal government. The other six councillors were in the meantime already sworn-in into office. Arriving at the parliament she asked for an 18-hour-break for her to decide tomorrow if she would accept or not accept the office vested upon her! This is what the German-speaking fondly says der kleine Unterschied, the small difference. In other parts of the world, including America and the Philippines, politicians assume office even if not elected at all by resorting to all kinds of cheats and tricks -and worse, they continue  declaring their government democratic. Any other politician outside Switzerland would gladly trade places with her, or would pay huge amount, or even kill, just to have this position. Irrespective of the circumstances that made her decide this way, it is for outside observers like you and me clear enough to see that Swiss democracy is functioning. The magic word is  concordance, consensus, among the major political parties to share power. It’s considered unschweizerisch, a derogatory term meaning not typical Swiss to aim to concentrate power in ones person and office. Here rules Primus Inter Pares, first among equals. This is the reason that led to not-reelection of the prime candidate of the Schweizerische Volkspartei SVP. He became untragbar, not tolerable anymore, in the federal council. So it’s not so much who you are  but it’s your attitude that counts in the end. Here the system is still above any person, unlike in other places, and attitude above intelligence. For what is intelligence if it can not control your impulses? What are academic degrees worth for if your conduct has remained primitive? What is intelligence and experience if you have no knowledge about respect? The swiss logic is plain and simple.This tells us that if you have intelligence and refined manners then you are fit for the swiss federal government. And if you respect the unwritten law of Kollegialität, collegiality, a political instrument already practiced by the Romans over 2000 years ago, which the Swiss adopted and is viewed as the foundation of the Swiss federalism, then you are one among them. These unwritten democratic rules are sacred, whether you like it or not.To trespass them is like to hang your own self, selber schuld, your own fault. This was the mistake of Mr. Blocher, this SVP man,-he hanged himself and divided his SVP. He tried to break this sacred rule believing that his good performance and popularity would justify his actions and that people would tolerate him for that and expected to receive eine Sonderbehandlung, a special treatment. But he erred. Farmers and construction workers are treated with respect in Switzerland but once in the government you better leave your tractors and hammers behind and begin to polish your language and gestures and observe the rules. Otherwise you’ll suffer the same fate as this SVP man. No special treatment. Selber  schuld.
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