‘It’s a fact: Ticino’s returning to the cabinet!” The Corriere del Ticino could barely contain itself given the news that Ignazio Cassis will on November 1 become the first cabinet minister from Italian-speaking Switzerland since 1999. Newspapers elsewhere thought he was a solid choice, although they stressed his responsibility to the nation.
“The choice of Cassis is also a chance for Switzerland, after 18 years, to have an executive in which all the national sensitivities are represented,” the Corriere wrote. Italian, one of Switzerland’s three official languages, is spoken by around 8% of the population.
“Ticino's got what it wanted, let’s now look after the rest of the country,” sniffed 24Heures in canton Vaud, disappointed that its local candidate Isabelle Moret had been comfortably beaten in Wednesday’s election.
The long absence from the seven-person cabinet had led to a sort of “insidious unease” in Ticino, it added. “A sort of lament, a mixture of incomprehension, protest and victimisation”.
The election of the 56-year-old doctor was “legitimate, but it remains just a symbol – albeit a positive one for national cohesion,” reckoned Le Matin in French-speaking Lausanne. “People fantasise a lot about the regional origins of our magistrates in Bern.”
For example, La Tribune de Genève. Cassis, it wrote, is “efficient like a German-speaking Swiss, eloquent like a French-speaking Swiss and warm-hearted like an Italian-speaking Swiss”.
He’s a real product of Switzerland, it continued: someone who embodies compromise, is multilingual and works for minorities.
Cassis is in fact the first “Secondo” cabinet minister ever. He became Swiss when he was 14, having been born in Ticino to Italian immigrants.
Photos of a beaming Cassis also adorned front pages in the German-speaking part of the country (although freesheet 20 Minuten opted for the Rolling Stones, who played in Zurich on Wednesday night).
The Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) praised parliament for its “smart” choice”. It was now up to Cassis, it wrote, to prove that he’s “free from special interests and can bring economically and socially liberal policies to Bern”.
The Basler Zeitung reminded its readers that Switzerland had a collective seven-person government in order to represent the country’s diversity. “The next cabinet elections will be about the representation of eastern Switzerland as well as the central and northwestern part of the country.”
“Benvenuto Ticino!” said tabloid Blick, not the only paper to dust off its Italian dictionary. “The cabinet now comprises four German-speakers, two francophones and an Italian-speaker – perfect!”
It wondered, however, how important origin, party, gender and age really were when it came to picking new cabinet ministers – “or should it simply be the best person?”
Pierre Maudet, a Genevan who came second to Cassis on Wednesday, was asked in the campaign to name his biggest flaw. “I’m not a woman from Ticino,” he replied.
For Blick, “the justified claim of canton Ticino had been fulfilled – and with a good candidate. Now the equally justified claim of women be fulfilled”. Currently there are only two female cabinet ministers.
“Ticino’s in – now it’s the women’s turn.”
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