Stalking allegations topple Swiss politician

Yannick Buttet in parliament on November 30 © KEYSTONE / PETER SCHNEIDER

Yannick Buttet has resigned with immediate effect as vice-president of the centre-right Christian Democratic Party, following allegations of stalking. He had already been suspended by his party, but he remains a member of the House of Representatives for the time being. 

This content was published on December 4, 2017 - 12:19 and agencies, and agencies/ts

On Monday, Buttet apologised and said he would check himself into treatment for alcohol problems. 

“I would like to apologise deeply to my wife and to my family and to the people who have been hurt by my inappropriate behaviour – and also to my party colleagues,” he said via his lawyer.

On Thursday, the Christian Democrats announced they had suspended Buttet after Le Temps newspaper reported that a complaint had been made against him to police for stalking. He is alleged to have rung the doorbell of an ex-lover in the southwestern Swiss city of Sion so many times during a night in November that she called the police. 

There have also been allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards other women, the article said, citing anonymous sources.

The police complaint has not been confirmed or denied by the local justice authorities, but Buttet confirmed the incident to the newspaper, saying his marriage had been in crisis and this had affected his judgement and behaviour. He said he now realised that sometimes in the evening and under the influence of alcohol, especially during this period of doubt, there had been “inappropriate gestures” that had upset or affected certain people.

Measures in parliament 

The Buttet case has given rise to a discussion about sexual harassment in the Swiss parliament. 

It comes two months after the Harvey Weinstein scandal, which saw the powerful Hollywood producer accused of sexual harassment and assault. He has denied the allegations. The case has prompted others to speak out over sexual harassment in the entertainment industry and beyond.

In Friday’s media, several female parliamentarians called for the creation of a place within parliament where support could be sought confidentially. Céline Amaudruz, from the conservative right Swiss People’s Party, said that she had been harassed on several occasions in parliament. She gave no further details during an interview with French-language Swiss public television RTS, but did say she would not get into a lift with certain people.

The presidents of the House of Representatives and the Senate said they would be looking into whether measures against sexual harassment in parliament were necessary. They condemned any form of sexual harassment and said that parliamentarians were responsible for their own behaviour, according to the Swiss news agency.

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