The Swiss President for 2017, Doris Leuthard, has called on people to remember that the country’s success is based on cohesion and solidarity in her New Year’s address to the nation.
“Our country starts on sure ground in 2017," said Leuthardexternal link, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency post for a year.
Switzerland offers a high quality of life: takes care of its environment, offers stability and has a well-functioning political system and democracy, she continued. Future generations have been considered through important decisions such as the Gotthard base tunnel external linkand by having a good education system.
But many other countries are faced with war, debt and changes in government. This creates an uncertain climate.
“We don’t know what lies ahead,” said the president. The cabinet does not always have a quick answer to all developments in this complex world, she warned. But what is sure: “Switzerland is a pillar of strength."
This is because the country has many advantages, like a capacity for innovation and its healthy economic growth that is accompanied by low unemployment levels.
However, the country’s traditional sense of solidarity is at risk, for example from the high costs in the health system.
“We want to preserve our stability and continue our success. For this we have to show solidarity more than ever,” said the transport minister, who takes on the presidency for the second time in her cabinet career.
And whether it concerns languages in a country that speaks four, culture or differences between town and country, it is important to reconcile diverging interests, she added.
The cabinet tries to find compromises. “This means that we listen to each other and why we try and understand each other. It’s not easy,” said Leuthard. This requires patience, perseverance and confidence.
That is why the president thanked all those who worked every day for “the cohesion of our society, for balance, progress and openness”.
The Swiss presidency is held by a different member of the seven-person cabinet every calendar year. The choice is based on seniority in the government, which means that a minister becomes president at least once every seven years. The last holder was Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann.
Leuthard, a lawyer by trade, has been in government since 2006. She last held the presidency in 2010.