Two weeks ago, Switzerland experienced a political earthquake whose tremors will be felt for the next years.

To understand and “appreciate” the whole situation you need to know (i) that there’s no president or chancellor, who has any significant power, (ii) that Switzerland has been governed by a coalition of the four major parties for the last 50 years, without any significant party in the opposition (… except for maybe the Green Party), and (iii) the government, consisting of seven ministers, is elected by the parliament and the distribution of the seven seats among the coalition parties is agreed before the elections and most of the time the seven “old” members are identical to the seven “new” members.

Now imagine this:

A populist party (SVP), which gets its votes on the right end of the political spectrum, becomes the strongest party in the Swiss parliament for the second time in a row. So far no surprise. This success was mostly due to its campaign against foreigners (with posters showing three white sheep kicking a black sheep out of Switzerland), spearheaded by its leader Christoph Blocher. So far still no surprise.

Now what really was surprising is the following: only one of the seven “old” ministers was not re-elected – Christoph Blocher, the head of the biggest Swiss party. Instead one of his fellow party members, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, was elected, without even officially running for the post and while she wasn’t even there for the election.

Although he was quite popular among the voters, he did not make many friends outside his own party during the last four years, as he often publicly criticized his fellow colleagues in the government, which is against all rules of Swiss collegiality.

Of course, I feel a certain personal satisfaction for his defeat, but he might be able to cash in on his role a martyr now and gain even more votes next year. At least his party now officially entered into the opposition … although they still have two out of seven members in the government!?!

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