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View from Parliament Swiss politicians react to Trump’s election

Keeping the peace is important to Burkhalter


Political figures in the Alpine nation have been giving their response to the dramatic election of Donald Trump as the new president of the United States.

Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, told Swiss public radio, RTS, on Wednesday: “The world changes, the United States changes, Switzerland doesn’t change in the same way. We are defending our Swiss interests and values.”

“We [the Swiss] work as an intermediary between different countries, that is also important for the United States,” said Burkhalter. “This peace work that Switzerland does will become perhaps even more important, if Trump handles his foreign policy as conservatively as promised.”

“We will continue our mission to promote peace and security, economic growth, science and research,” he added, and continued with a note of reassurance, “Switzerland can work with any US administration.”

Christoph Blocher, the strongman of the rightwing Swiss People's Party, said Trump's victory was a warning to current world leaders not to ignore citizen concerns on issues including immigration.

"People feel powerless against those who rule them, and for them, Trump is a release valve," Blocher told the Reuters news agency.

The former justice minister and billionaire businessman said the election should give pause to the political establishment around the world.

Tim Guldimann, a member of parliament for the leftwing Social Democrats and former Swiss ambassador, says he has no illusions about the US and its interest-driven policies.

"Trump, a supporter of protectionism, will be much more ruthless in imposing a selfish nationalist policy," Guldimann is quoted in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper.

He is also pessimistic about world peace. "Trump is incompetent, unprincipled and therefore highly dangerous. His anti-establishment stance makes him incapable of taking rational decisions to run the super power."  

Insecurity for investors

Christa Markwalder, the speaker of the Swiss House of Representatives said on Wednesday morning that she saw “a lot of question marks” about the impact of Trump's victory. She is a member of the Switzerland-US parliamentary association.

Although it is in Switzerland's interest to keep good ties with the US, Markwalder said Trump's victory had created a climate of insecurity unfavourable for investors. “Switzerland has a good reputation in the US, about half a million US citizens have Swiss roots,” she commented, adding that both countries shared the same values as “sister republics”.

Downplaying rhetoric

When asked if Switzerland might have to brace itself for difficulties in economic relations with the US, Roland R. Büchel, speaker of the foreign affairs committee of the House of Representatives, told Swiss public radio, SRF: “I’m not really concerned that the situation could get worse for Switzerland now. And besides, we should remember that it has not always been that brilliant in the past few years.”

He said he believes in the functioning system of checks and balances in the US and that campaign rhetoric, particularly in the US, cannot be taken at face value. He downplayed a possible impact on politics in Switzerland: “In a Swiss-style direct democracy the conditions are different. But the result in the US shows that people were not happy with the policy of the Democrats.”

Official word from the government

When it came to an official statement from the Swiss government, their spokesperson, André Simonazzi, had this to say: “The Swiss government has taken note of the election results in the United States. As is customary, the Swiss president sent congratulations through diplomatic channels this morning.”

Simonazzi said the Swiss authorities have been in touch with the teams of both candidates for the presidency in the run-up to prepare the next steps. “Switzerland will continue to defend its interests and prepare for contact with the new administration.”

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