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Elections trumped by other issues, expert says

Leading political analyst Michael Hermann has downplayed the importance of next October’s parliamentary elections for Swiss politics.

Instead, he says the crucial problems to be negotiated are between citizens and the political leadership as well as between the Swiss government and the European Union.

“The share of votes [in parliament] does not change much as far as the major political issues are concerned,” Hermann told the Berner Zeitung newspaper.

In particular, he refers to the re-introduction of immigration caps for EU citizens in a nationwide vote last February. The restrictions have to be in place by 2017, but Brussels says it is not willing to re-negotiate the free movement of people principle with Switzerland.

Hermann also notes a decreasing willingness by the country’s political parties to find a compromise and put pressure on Switzerland to adopt international norms.

Switzerland’s political system with its people’s initiatives is a major factor of uncertainty, he adds. “They offer people powers to act which they do not really have…[because] political groups focus on a single problem and create the illusion that it can be solved separately from others.”

Instead, the business community has more power to ensure its voice is heard and its interests implemented, he argues.

Hermann, who considers himself liberal leftwing, leads the Sotomo research institute and teaches at Zurich University.

Parliamentary elections take place every four years in Switzerland. Subsequently, the two chambers of parliament choose the seven members of government.



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