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Parliamentary president wants balanced budget

The president of the Swiss House of Representatives on Monday opened the new session of parliament by underlining the importance of a balanced budget and self-reliance.

The president of the Swiss House of Representatives on Monday opened the new session of parliament by underlining the importance of a balanced budget and self-reliance.

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” Hanspeter Seiler (picture) told the 200-member chamber, which has 81 new members after parliamentary elections in October.

Seiler used the famous statement by former U.S. President John F. Kennedy to underline his main message: A healthy and well-functioning state needs parliamentarians who work to their best abilities, as well as citizens who not only demand from the state, but also show personal initiative and deliver themselves.

Seiler said parliamentarians must show restriction in public spending and seek to balance the budget as soon as possible. He said that the current budget deficit of SFr120 billion ($75 billion) was causing an interest burden that was simply unacceptable.

The new House president belongs to the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, which was the big winner in the October elections.

Its populist party figurehead and House member Christoph Blocher has been nominated as candidate for the cabinet when the seven members of the executive come up for parliamentary elections on December 15.

Traditionally, the vote has been a routine rubber stamp procedure. But this time there may be political drama as the People’s Party has made clear it wants a second cabinet seat and will challenge Social Democrat incumbents with Blocher’s candidature.

The Social Democrats, the biggest party in parliament, has criticised Blocher and his party of isolationism, steamrollering minority opinions and of threatening the social coherence of the country.

From staff and wire reports.

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