The ‘most attractive country in the world’? An optimistic, though not triumphalist, tone infused the speeches of cabinet ministers today as they crossed the country for the August 1 National Day.
Cervelat sausages, bonfires, national anthems, and the obligatory speeches by cabinet ministers: National Day 2017 took place in an atmosphere of confidence on August 1, despite some extreme weather conditions.
Across much of the country, dry and warm winds brought ratcheting temperatures of over 30°C (86°F). However, following recent storm damage, especially in south-eastern regions, more tempestuous weather is forecast this evening across the country.
However, nothing could dampen the words of President Doris Leuthard, speaking in canton Neuchâtel, who celebrated “this country where life is good.” The Swiss project is “a success that others envy and of which we should be proud,” she said.
Meanwhile, in canton Valais the previous evening, Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann had also praised the “exceptional” prosperity that Swiss values had helped to create. If he was to write a letter to Swiss folk hero William Tell now, he would send him something “stamped with pride,” he said.
Also in canton Valais, Finance Minister Ueli Maurer put this success down to the value of liberty combined with the pursuit of quality by Swiss industry, while his conservative right colleague, Defence Minister Guy Parmelin hailed the stable institutions, efficient public services, and reliable infrastructure of the country.
Not that everything is rosy. “We live in a worrying world,” said Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, in his last August 1 address before resigning at the end of October. But Switzerland, notably through its independent and impartial foreign policy, can continue to be “force for peace for humanity,” he said.
Leuthard, who also recently revealed that she would not be standing for re-election in 2019, referred to the European question, at a time of flux for Swiss-EU relations. “Nobody wants to tie Switzerland to Europe,” she said. But at the same time, no country in Europe is able to protect itself and its people all alone, she said.
726 years old
The National Day was established in 1891, to commemorate what is seen as Switzerland’s founding moment 600 years earlier, when an oath of mutual protection was taken by representatives of three central Swiss cantons on the Rütli meadow near Lake Lucerne.
Indeed, this morning, over 1,000 people gathered at the field to take part in celebrations, which included alphorns and a traditional crossbow demonstration. Police security was tight, following destabilization by right-wing activists over a decade ago.
Elsewhere, the day – which officially became a public holiday only in 1993, following a landslide vote result – mainly sees family get-togethers, some traditional farm brunches, and fireworks and bonfires in the evening.
Though it emerged this week that a small minority of municipalities in the country are not celebrating the day, for budgetary or organisational reasons, the majority of communes host official celebrations.
swissinfo.ch with agencies/dos