A town mayor who was named and shamed by the media for sending naked photographs of himself to a woman has said he’ll stay on in his role, despite protests from the local government. It’s an issue that has sparked a nationwide debate over just how private someone’s personal life really is.
Geri Müller, who is also a parliamentarian representing the Green Party in the House of Representatives, was suspended from his mayoral duties in Baden, a town outside Zurich, after the situation became public in mid-August. He now says he intends to return to work on Monday.
Müller, 53, had sent nude photos of himself to a friend – a 33-year-old woman. According to press reports, Müller sent some of these images during working hours.
In a press release describing his decision to stay on as mayor, Müller said he understood that his personal wrongdoing had irritated many people, but that the naked pictures were a private matter.
Baden’s local government said in a statement that he should resign in the interests of the town. They have taken away the powers that come with his job, allocating his portfolio to the deputy mayor.
Upon his return, Müller would essentially only be left with the role of leading the town government’s meetings.
Moral rights and wrongs
The whole saga has ignited discussion among politicians, the public and the media over the separation of someone’s professional and personal life – should private mistakes necessarily lead to consequences at work?
The events were of even more interest to the country as they came just weeks after a secretary in the Swiss parliament was heavily criticised for tweeting naked images of herself, some apparently from within her office in the building.
She was released from her duties with immediate effect.
Speaking to Swiss Public Television, SRF, about the chain of events related to Müller, political scientist Michael Hermann said: “Geri Müller was directly elected by the people, and he has only committed an ethical misdemeanour”.
Hermann said that as Müller’s work colleagues had taken away his portfolio on moral grounds, the whole case had gained a “new dynamic”.
He commented that it was up to Müller to set a precedent by counteracting the city government’s action.