Turn out and vote for change!

Mark Herkenrath, Director Alliance Sud
Political article
The election of the new Parliament that will set the direction of Swiss politics for the next four years is now only days away. After a Legislature variously judged on either side as lost, messed up or wasted, there are new signs of hope.

Every election is a choice of direction, but this time, there is also talk – and justifiably so – of choosing change. And change is needed, millions of people around the globe have been demanding it in recent weeks. They are convinced that the fossil fuel-based economic model has run its course. They have powerful allies in academia, but the picture is somewhat more complicated when it comes to the segment of the political class that is closely intertwined with economic interests. The distinction is worth making nonetheless. Ever more business sector representatives have recognized the seriousness of the situation and understood that failure to change course now towards transformation and sustainable development will only give rise to losers in the foreseeable future and to dislocations that are hard to gauge.

Next year the new Parliament will approve two ground-breaking drafts: the full review of the CO2 Act and the Dispatch on Switzerland’s International Cooperation (IC) for 2021-2024. The new CO2 Act should mean the unconditional implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, while the essence of the IC dispatch is about whether the Confederation makes its contribution to worldwide poverty alleviation or whether development cooperation should serve primarily to promote Switzerland’s foreign trade. Will it be Switzerland first, or solidarity first?

As a non-partisan organization, Alliance Sud does not make voting recommendations. What is absolutely clear to us, however, is whose support we can rely on in which party. Smartvote asked those running for a seat in Parliament, among other things, whether a fuel tax should be introduced or whether the Confederation should increase or decrease its development cooperation spending. The answers from some centre and centre-right parties have turned out to be remarkably mixed, and this warrants a closer look at the profiles of those running for office.

In the light of the challenges looming for Switzerland in the world, the recent electoral campaign has been singularly dull and uninspired. Any splashes of colour there were came by and large from civil society. Meanwhile most of those entitled to vote are still standing passively on the sidelines. The wealthier Switzerland became in the 20th century, the smaller the number of people who went out to vote. A hundred years ago that figure was 80.4 per cent, the year 1975 being the last time that voter turnout surpassed 50 per cent. Anyone who thinks that change is now needed should go out and vote on October 20th and also mobilize people around them to do likewise!