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Corona crisis  Swiss People’s Party says government ‘too powerful’ 

Albert Rösti

Albert Rösti, president of the Swiss People's Party, as seen on May 2

(Keystone / Peter Schneider)

The Swiss government has given itself too much power during the Covid-19 pandemic, the leader of Switzerland’s most popular party, the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, says.  

This must be stopped, and the emergency decree giving these powers lifted, the party’sexternal link Albert Rösti told the tabloid Blick on Friday.  

On March 16, the Swiss government declared an “extraordinary situation” in which people had to stay home for two months, parliament was suspended and the government would rule alone by emergency decree.  

+ Swiss government shuts down public life amid spreading coronavirus 

+ The latest on the coronavirus situation in Switzerland  

Parliament 

Parliament regrouped for its spring session  at the beginning of May, but in the city of Bern’s exhibition hall, where the necessary distance could be maintained, rather than in the federal parliament building.  

This was good, Rösti said, but parliament “is taking the wrong direction” because it has given more money than the government recommended to certain causes. By this he meant daycare facilities, which were allotted CHF65 million ($67 million) by parliament to keep afloat. Rösti felt this could have been left to the cantons. 

+ Parliament approves funding for ‘forgotten’ sectors 

Swiss federalism 

A return to Swiss-style federalism, in which there is a balance of power between the national and cantonal (regional) authorities, was necessary, said Rösti. If there were to be a second wave of the coronavirus, cantons should be given far more leeway in the measures they take. “We can’t have another nationwide lockdown in Switzerland,” Rösti told the paper. 

 “Measures to stop the progression of the coronavirus were important and correct, but they should be chosen in such a way that the economy can continue to function,” he added. 

Rösti is by no means the first person to criticise the balance of power during the crisis, although some experts think the cantons had too much autonomy at the start of the pandemic and that this slowed the country’s response down. Others have said it is key for the federal government to have flexibility in times of crisis. 

Another view on sole federal government rule and Swiss democracy can be seen below. 

Keystone-SDA/Blick/swissinfo.ch/ilj

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