“I’ve opted for a political path, and August 1st is thus an opportunity to say something important about the past and future of our country,” says Magdalena Martullo-Blocher in an interview published on Sunday by the weekly newspaper Schweiz am Sonntag.
Martullo-Blocher, head of the Swiss chemical company Ems-Chemie and a candidate for a seat in the Swiss House of Representatives in the October 2015 elections, gave her first Swiss National Day address on August 1st, in Obersaxen, canton Graubünden.
Although Martullo-Blocher took over Ems-Chemie from her father, Christoph Blocher, a former member of the Swiss cabinet and among the most influential politicians in the conservative right Swiss People’s Party, Martullo-Blocher said she does not see herself as his political successor.
“I always go my own way,” she told the newspaper. “My aim is to make a contribution to better politics in Bern.”
According to Martullo-Blocher, the basic values enshrined in the Swiss Constitution – freedom, independence, security and the people’s rights – are no longer taken seriously by the Cabinet and by the majority of Swiss political parties.
“They carelessly stray from the path we’ve followed successfully for the past 724 years,” she said in the interview. “The cabinet is violating the Constitution!”
Like the People’s Party – Switzerland’s largest – which she hopes to represent in Graubünden, Martullo-Blocher believes that federalism makes Switzerland strong, and that maintaining the bilateral treaties with the EU is less important than maintaining Swiss independence.
“I don’t think the bilateral treaties are in danger,” she said. “That’s just scare tactics. I’m for the treaties, but if they’re discontinued it won’t be the end of the world.”
As the leader of a company with 1,000 employees, $1.9 billion (CHF1.8 billion) in sales, and branches in a variety of countries, Magdalena Martullo-Blocher realises that running a business in Switzerland has drawbacks. Switzerland is “a landlocked country, small, expensive, with no raw materials and a difficult topography”, she says. “But the disadvantages are overcome through better general conditions and lower taxes.” She believes that Swiss companies can adapt quickly and flexibly to change.
As an example, Ems-Chemie did not lower salaries, increase working hours, or lay off workers in response to the increasing strength of the Swiss franc, Martullo-Blocher told the paper. Due to its quick reaction to the lifting of the euro-franc exchange rate peg by the Swiss National Bank in January, Ems-Chemie will have a better year in 2015 than in 2014.
Graubünden is a canton that depends greatly on income from tourism. Industries like tourism need to consider new structures, work together, and improve their service, Martullo-Blocher says. “Above all, we should approach new groups of tourists.”
A political life
Although Martullo-Blocker lives in canton Zurich, she has chosen to run for one of Graubünden’s five seats in the House, she told the Schweiz am Sonntag. Zurich already has a big influence on what goes on in the Swiss capital, she said, whereas Graubünden receives too little attention there. In addition, her company is based in Graubünden, and “I have daily contact with local politics and the local authorities.”
In earlier days, said the mother of three children, she had no interest in either her father’s business or politics. But as she told the paper, “sometimes in life things turn out differently from what you expect.”
swissinfo.ch and agencies