Swiss unenthusiastic about Bush victory

Bush wins another four years. Keystone

Three out of four of Switzerland’s major political parties say they are disappointed by President Bush's re-election, while business leaders have reacted with indifference.

This content was published on November 3, 2004

On behalf of the government, Swiss President Joseph Deiss congratulated Bush in a telegram, and wished him success in his next term of office.

Deiss also expressed confidence that "the very good relations between our two countries will continue to deepen".

Speaking after the Republican victory was announced, a spokesman for the centre-left Social Democrats called Bush’s re-election “a profound disappointment” given the “disastrous” results of his first term.

“Everyone [in our party] was hoping for change,” said Jean-Philippe Jeannerat.

He added that the Social Democrats were concerned about the type of policies the Bush administration might adopt on security, the climate and energy, as well as towards the World Trade Organization (WTO).

His views were echoed by the president of the centre-right Christian Democrats, Doris Leuthard, who said she would have "clearly preferred John Kerry" as the person to take steps to put the American economy back on track.

Military spending

Leuthard said she expected Bush to continue to put the accent on military spending, “a sector which neither benefits the American population nor contributes to economic stability”.

She added that Bush had shown “little interest in Switzerland”, which meant that his re-election would not effect the current state of Swiss-American relations.

A spokesman for the centre-right Radicals, Christian Weber, said his party was close to the Republicans on economic policies, but with the Democrats on social issues.

There was no immediate reaction from the rightwing Swiss People’s Party.

Reduce spending

Swiss business leaders expressed no particular preference for Bush or Kerry during the election campaign, and showed no surprise at the outcome.

The Swiss Business Federation, economiesuisse, called on the re-elected president to reduce spending and set clear economic goals.

The federation said it expected the Bush government to take international organisations more seriously, in particular the WTO.

The Swiss Bankers Association called for “moderate taxation and open markets while reducing the US budget deficit”.

Hans Vögeli, chairman and CEO of Zurich Cantonal Bank, said the economy would profit "in the short term" from a Bush victory.

But he added that things were likely to become more difficult in the medium term, "because the [political] division in the US will be seen worldwide".

Looking ahead

A security expert at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Andreas Wenger, said he expected President Bush to alter his basic policies.

According to Wenger, the growing budget deficit and increase in anti-Americanism around the world could force him to do so.

Swiss experts also voiced concern that Bush’s policies could lead to a further deepening of the divisions in American society.

Georg Kohler, a professor for political philosophy at Zurich University, said the US lacked an “integration figure” who could bridge the gap between the conservative Christian strongholds in rural areas and the liberally-minded urban population.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Three of Switzerland’s four main political parties say they are disappointed with President Bush’s re-election.

Switzerland’s business community called on the Bush government to act in a fiscally responsible way.

Security and political experts expressed fear that Bush’s re-election could lead to a further deepening of the divide within American society and an increase in anti-American feeling around the world.

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