Almost two-thirds of Geneva residents believe cantonal government minister Pierre Maudet should step down, a survey has shown. The centre-right Radical Liberal politician is under investigation for allegedly accepting benefits, charges he denies.
A poll published on Mondayexternal link found that 62% of people in Geneva believe the minister should resign, while 26% say he should remain in his government post.
A total of 68% of people who took part in the survey commissioned by Swiss public television, RTS, Le Temps and Radio Lac also say that the “Maudet affair” has tainted the image of local politicians.
The minister has been under investigation by the Geneva Attorney General’s Office since August 201external link8. His immunity was lifted last September to allow the justice to probe his visit to a Formula 1 race in the United Arab Emirates in 2015. He has denied any legal breaches but publicly admits to lying about the all-expenses trip to Abu Dhabi offered by a senior sheikh.
He is also suspected of accepting money for his election campaignexternal link and other favours from a hotel chain in Geneva to the tune of more than CHF120,000 ($120,001).
Maudet has denied the allegations and apologized for his “imperfections” but rules out stepping down.
On Monday, he appeared on Swiss public television, SRF, to defend himself. Maudet said the poll’s results were a “concern”, but he raised doubts over possible bias in particular the kinds of questions people had been asked. He said citizens should believe his word and acts, adding that he was ready to “convince people”.
Since the launch of the investigation, the 40-year-old centre-right Radical Party politician has been stripped of his powers in the cantonal executive as head of the security department and president. He was recently attributed a newly-created department in charge of business promotion.
Despite a vote of confidence by party grassroots last month, the cantonal chapter as well as the national Radical Party leadership have repeatedly called on Maudet to step down. Maudet has refused to comply, saying legal investigations are still underway.