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Pay for play? More than three out of four parliamentarians paid for honorary posts


Politicians are now obliged to declare any remuneration received for honorary positions.

(© Keystone / Gaetan Bally)

Elected representatives at the national level hold an average of seven honorary positions each, of which almost half are financially remunerated.

Since December, parliamentarians are not just required to indicate honorary posts in companies, associations or foundations, but also whether they are paid for their role. An analysis by the NZZ am Sonntag paperexternal link of the register of declaration of interest of politicians reveals that Switzerland’s 246 parliamentarians (200 in the House of Representatives and 46 in the Senate) hold a total of 1,650 honorary positions or an average of almost seven per parliamentarian. Of these 45% are remunerated.

Three quarters of the members of the House of Representatives receive funding in the form of honoraria, mandate or lobbying for at least one ancillary activity while the proportion is around 80% for senators. The highest amount paid for an honorary post is CHF140,000 ($144,000) and the highest cumulative amount received by a parliamentarian is CHF400,000 (for a total of 18 posts).

While politicians are obliged to declare payments received for honorary positions there are no requirements for transparency when it comes to financing of political parties. A people’s initiative has succeeded in collecting enough signatures for a proposal to ensure that political parties declare the size and source of donations above CHF10,000, as well as campaign expenses above CHF100,000. Accepting anonymous donations would be made illegal. The government and parliament have rejected the initiative and have proposed a softer version instead in which only donations above CHF25,000 and campaign spending above CHF250,000 would have to be declared.

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