SWISS REVIEW - Auslandschweizer-Organisation (2023)

SWISS REVIEW The magazine for the Swiss Abroad October 2021The Swiss healthcare system isstruggling: the warning signs are thereThe village of Uetendorf, far from theSwiss national border and yet marked by boundariesThe controversial hero of Swiss cannabis smokers:Bernard Rappaz, hemp farmer and the bane of authority The publisher of “Swiss Review” is the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad

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Contents Editorial 3 Swiss healthcare: is it still fit for purpose? 5 Mailbag 6 Focus Healthcare staff in Switzerland It is a big number as well as being entirely abstract: are being pushed to the brink 82,000,000,000 Swiss francs. This is the sum spent on Swiss healthcare every year. Is it a lot or not that much? 10 Images The best way to answer that question is to break A snapshot of footballing down the figure into something more tangible: Swiss highs and lows healthcare costs 800 francs per person every month. Or 3,200 francs for the average family of four – every 12 Society month. A significant portion of these costs comes When it comes to hemp, straight out of the family budget. This makes obligatory healthcare premi- Bernard Rappaz knows no bounds ums in Switzerland impressively – or, depending on a person’s income, ­depressingly – high. At the same time, Swiss healthcare is not just expensive 15 Literature but also of excellent quality by international standards. Nevertheless, it is Alfred A. Häsler’s work still anything but perfect. “Das Boot ist voll” (The boat is full) The “care” in Swiss healthcare is increasingly falling by the wayside as was a revelation to many workers are being pushed ever closer to their limits, something that was the case even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pressure has become 16 Science ­unhealthy. Moreover, as an ageing society demands more of its healthcare A Swiss summer of extremes system, this pressure is only going to increase in the future. Healthcare work- ers are putting their own health at risk, as reported in this edition’s Focus News from your region article. A popular initiative calling for an overhaul of the healthcare system will 17 Report go to a vote on 28 November. The initiative calls for an increase in staffing Uetendorf (BE), the village so far numbers and a major increase in investment in training for the sector. Hardly from the Swiss border anyone claims that the demands are entirely without justification. At the same time, the initiative presents a dilemma: increasing staffing numbers 20 Politics would make healthcare even more expensive – and there is no known rem- A controversial idea: drawing lots to edy to heal all the ailments of the Swiss healthcare system. select judges instead of electing them Many Swiss Abroad have another adverse development to contend with additionally. Since the Federal Council broke off negotiations with the Euro- 21 Swiss figures pean Union over a framework agreement, many Swiss Abroad, especially those living in the EU, fear that they will be disadvantaged at some point. 22 SwissCommunity news This is adding to the resentment that many people in the “Fifth Switzerland” Filippo Lombardi succeeds Remo have regarding the difficulties they face when registering their votes in Swiss Gysin as new President of the OSA elections. The new Council of the Swiss Abroad: Therefore, the message for the newly elected President of the Organisa- the names of all the elected delegates tion of the Swiss Abroad, Ticino politician Filippo Lombardi, and for the ­radically overhauled Council of the Swiss Abroad is clear: their first duty is 27 Notes from the Federal Palace to deal with a couple of familiar challenges. MARC LETTAU, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF 30 Books / Sounds 31 Top pick / News “Swiss Review”, the information magazine for the “Fifth Switzerland”, is published by the Cover photo: iStockphoto Organisation of the Swiss Abroad.Swiss Review / October 2021 / No. 5

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Mailbag 5 Are Swiss 16-year-olds ready to vote? I know many 16-year-olds whose maturity The vote at 16, yes, to take into account the aspirations of SWISS REVIEW The magazine for the Swiss Abroad August 2021 far exceeds that of people twice their age, younger people. We rely on them to improve on our mistakes. ­including some politicians. I am 70 years old Those who are against it are looking to selfishly protect their and notice that young people are far better own advantages. It would also be interesting to spend more ­i nformed about world events than I was at time at school talking about business and companies, politicalWhat do Johanna and many of her peers want? their age. It is young people who are taking structures, the running of household finances, etc. The right to vote at the age of 16The Federal Council abandons talks with the EU –a turning point that raises many questions High-wire act – Uri is the canton with the lead on climate change, the most pressing JEAN PIERRE MAIRE, SPAIN the highest density of cable cars The publisher of “Swiss Review” is the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad issue of our time. So I fully support the low- ering of the voting age to 16. RICHARD JAKOB-HOFF, NEW ZEAL AND Giving 16-year-olds the vote is irresponsible. Young people at that age are not mature enough and can be influenced to an ex- I don’t think it’s a good idea as young people are more easily in- tent that would make fair decisions at the ballot box an impos- fluenced the younger they are. This is like manna for extreme sibility. You need a certain amount of life experience to make political parties looking to win more votes. It would be head- important decisions. Democracy at the ballot box not only ing towards a slippery slope which could knock the country means looking after your own interests – it also means doing into endless political turmoil… RENAUD WICKY, BALI, INDONESIA something for the general good. RENATO BESOMI, JAVEA, SPAIN Absolutely it should be lowered. At the very least, at the local Are 16-year-olds really incapable of exercising a political voice? and regional level. There is no reason why it can’t be imple- Democratic politics is essentially all about representing the in- mented, while keeping other things a little bit older, for exam- terests of the people. Are we suggesting that the interests of ple, you can do federal participation and running for office 16-year-olds are less relevant than those of older people? Are when you are also required for military or civil service. All of they less important? A glance around the globe makes me more these things should be reassessed with a view towards the fu- inclined to think that the opposite is true, and to wonder ture. MARC SPARGNAPANI, USA whether it would make more sense to have a maximum voting age instead. ARYE-ISAAC OPHIR, ISRAEL I think very few people are political at the age of 16. Teenagers like to party, but ask them about politics and they will stare at Was I ready to vote when I was 18, I don’t know. Would I have you blankly. The voting age should remain at 18. voted at 16 if allowed to, well yes. Would I vote the same way KARIN KRÄUCHI, GRAZ, AUSTRIA now that I am four times older, likely not. So what could be the objections against voting at 16? The biggest problem I encoun- First of all – what a very interesting topic. Giving 16-year-olds tered in voting at 18 was the lack of information. Nowadays the vote is a good idea. People will argue for and against. The more information is at hand and there is no reason to say that most important thing is that young people develop a feeling of a 16-year-old person cannot make a rational decision. Is it responsibility for their country. We must show that we trust ­possible that we are not comfortable reducing the voting right them. ÖNDER ERDOGAN, TURKEY to 16 as it will rock the boat too much? I would support lower- ing the voting age to 16 any time. KURT FEHLMANN, AUSTRALIA Absolutely no, I’m from Argentina where they lowered it for one simple reason: underage people don’t think about their ­future and they are easily attracted by ideas that sound good but in practice will doom your country. They are not mature enough to analyse and take decisions over economic and ­political matters. 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6 Focus Swiss healthcare on the brink of intensive care Switzerland has an ageing population with more and more people suffering from complex health issues. This represents an enormous challenge for the country’s celebrated health sector. A dearth of well-trained staff exacerbates matters. People in the nursing profession have a lot on their plate – and are struggling to cope.EVELINE RUTZ great. Shift rotas make it harder for them to have any sort of privateSwiss healthcare is in trouble. Costs are rising, reform is hitting the and family life. The work is physically and mentally draining. Andbuffers, and a skilled workforce is in short supply. Nurses had already cost-cutting pressure across the sector has led to minimal staffing andbeen voicing concern before Covid, complaining of poor working con- a focus on efficiency above all else. Nurses often have little time to re-ditions and a lack of appreciation. After one and a half years of the spond to individual needs or make small talk with patients. They findpandemic, they are now physically and emotionally exhausted (see it hard to come to terms with the fact that they are unable to do theiralso “Swiss Review” 4/2021). But the pressure continues to build, as job the way they want. Many leave the profession early. A third of thosedemographic and social factors aggravate the situation. Forecasts pre- who do so are younger than 35.dict that the shortfall in nurses is likely to be around 65,000 by 2030.Employee associations and health experts warn of an emergency – Foreign workers plug the gapswhich the “Strong healthcare” popular initiative aims to avert. Thisinitiative will be put to the people on 28 November 2021. Never before have there been so many job vacancies in the Swiss healthcare sector. HR departments are finding it hard to fill positionsStaff attrition and often resort to recruiting people from abroad. At the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Switzerland, for example, 42 per cent of doctorsAround 214,200 people work in the nursing profession in Switzerland are Swiss, 36 per cent are German and eight per cent are Austrian.– mostly at hospitals (45 per cent) and care homes (41 per cent). The re- However, 86 per cent of the qualified nursing staff are Swiss. The uni-maining 14 per cent work in the home care sector. Many nurses work versity hospitals of Zurich and Lausanne, on the other hand, rely muchpart-time, because the demands of a full-time position are simply too more on foreign workers, who account for around 60 and 50 per cent Swiss Review / October 2021 / No. 5

7 When healthcare pro- fessionals are in short supply, the human side of nursing is often ne- glected. This trend will become more pro- nounced as society ages. Photo: Keystoneof the nursing staff respectively. It is also becoming increasingly com- nurses?” In Germany, for example, responsibility for wound caremon for private households to employ carers from Germany and east- moved to the nursing sector only a few years ago, while administer-ern Europe. These women work virtually around the clock, earn rel- ing injections and infusions is part of every nurse’s basic training inatively little, and return to their home countries after a few months. Switzerland. In the USA, nurse practitioners are responsible for pro- The practice of plugging staffing gaps with foreign workers is prob- viding primary care to the general public. And the Dutch have estab-lematic for ethical reasons. Switzerland is relying on people whom lished their “Buurtzorg” (neighbourhood care) model, where teamsother countries have trained – and then lost. It will become harder to of nurses are more or less free to advise and treat patients and makerecruit workers from abroad in future, because other countries are all the clinical and operational decisions themselves, accessing sup-now doing more to keep their best people. Nevertheless, staffing needs port from other specialists where Switzerland will continue to grow strongly, not least because of anageing population. Predominant doctorsWealth of knowledge, minimal autonomy “Switzerland does not lead the way,” says Spirig. Its health system re- lies heavily on doctors. “Our nurses have great expertise but are rarelyIn terms of the number of nurses per 1,000 inhabitants, Switzerland able make their own decisions.” For example, patients in Switzerlandfares well compared to other countries. But according to Rebecca Spi- even need a doctor’s prescription for minor things like wearing com-rig, professor at the Institute of Nursing Science at the University of pression tights. Swiss healthcare also has layers of complexity. Any-Basel, it would be wrong to assume the sector is in a comfortable po- one living at home with care requirements usually deals with a vari-sition: “We need to consider the whole picture. How do we deploy our ety of specialists. Home nurses will change bandages, care for woundsSwiss Review / October 2021 / No. 5

8 Focus “Pflege macht krank” (healthcare is bad for you): on 12 May 2021, healthcare profession- als marched in protest through the streets of Basel with placards bearing slogans to ex-press their displeasure. Such protests had al- ready been happening on a regular basis before the COVID-19pandemic. Photo: Keystone and help with personal hygiene. Doctors will make diagnoses, pro- vide treatment and prescribe therapies. Physiotherapists or occupa-The public pays a lot tional therapists will do the rest. “We have a lack of uniform struc-Healthcare services are expensive in Switzerland and are paid for mainly by the people tures and processes in outpatient care,” says Ursula Meidert of thewho use them. In 2018, the bill was 798 francs per capita per month. Private households Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW). There is often insuffi-bore 63 per cent of the costs, with compulsory health insurance premiums covering just cient consultation. This can lead to duplication of effort or gaps in careunder half of the costs. The government covered around 30 per cent, according to the as well as the wrong care.Federal Statistical Office. Health expenditure as a share of GDP has risen significantlyin recent decades, accounting for 11.2 per cent in 2018 – one of the highest proportions Quality varies considerablyin Europe. The USA easily topped the list on 16.9 per cent, followed by Germany(11.5 per cent) and France (11.3 per cent). Spain recorded 9.0 per cent and Ireland Like many other aspects of Swiss life, the healthcare sector has a fed-6.9 per cent. The fact that costs are increasing is a source of concern for many in eral structure. Federal government makes the guidelines, which theSwitzerland – healthcare and health insurance consistently rank high on the annual cantons then implement. The cantons delegate certain tasks to theCredit Suisse Worry Barometer. For the record: the highest costs in Switzerland are municipalities, who in turn are partially responsible for long-termrelated to hospital stays, the lowest to preventive medicine. (ERU) care as well as outpatient care for the elderly. Hence the availability of medical and social services varies considerably from place to place, as does the effectiveness with which these services work together. Swiss Review / October 2021 / No. 5

9 Prescriptions to avert an emergency Since the pandemic began, the public has certainly become more conscious of the work that carers put in around the clock. The “Strong healthcare” popular initiative aims to give nurses a shot in the arm. It will be put to the people on 28 November.For years, nurses have been calling for bet- nurses need greater scope to prescribe, have greater job satisfaction and stay longerter working conditions, greater recognition carry out and invoice certain treatments in the nursing profession. The campaignersand more autonomy. The Swiss professional themselves. “Giving nurses more responsi- also want higher staffing ratios. Hence vot-association of nurses (SBK-ASI) now wants bility will ease the pressure on doctors,” ers will have the last word on 28 take matters into its own hands at the bal- says nursing academic and initiative com- The Federal Council and majorities in thelot box. “Our health system will be on the mittee member Rebecca Spirig. National Council and Council of States op-brink of intensive care itself if we fail to pose the initiative. They are unwilling to af-make our profession more attractive,” says Counterproposal to promote training ford nurses special treatment in the federalSBK-ASI director Yvonne Ribi. Supporters of constitution. Health insurers also belong tothe initiative want greater investment in ed- Policymakers have lent nurses a sympa- the no camp, unhappy that the initiativeucation and further training. For example, thetic ear. The federal parliament has ap- would allow nurses to prescribe certainthey say that apprentice wages need to be proved a counterproposal, favouring a strat- medical services themselves. They warnincreased to boost the number of graduates egy that promotes training. Almost 500 that this would lead to more frequent treat-entering the profession. million Swiss francs from the federal coffers ments and additional costs. The opposite is The initiative also wants more people has been earmarked for the proposal, with true, counter supporters. Not having to relyworking per shift to ensure quality as well the cantons set to match this amount. That on a doctor’s signature all the time will saveas patient safety. Rotas and working hours is too little, says the initiative committee. It time and money, they say. (ERU)have to be more family friendly. In future, believes that more is needed if carers are toEfforts are being made to make primary care more interconnected ers like the Swiss Medical Association, health insurers, and the phar-and efficient – not least in rural areas, where group practices have maceutical industry have a notable lobby. But voters also tend to besprung up, pooling together different specialist areas. Models involv- sceptical of reform proposals. In 2012, for example, the electorate re-ing top-quality home care providers and a seamless interface with in- jected a plan that aimed to improve the coordination and quality ofpatient care also exist. These receive a degree of public funding. “We primary care. Those who oppose innovative solutions warn of higherhave evaluated some good solutions,” says Spirig. But there is a lack of costs, reflecting a common concern (see adjacent text, “The public payspolitical will to promote and implement these models across Switzer- a lot”). However, studies suggest that uniform structures and efficientland, she adds. Meidert shares this view: “Many authorities only act processes help to keep the costs in check. Once the various professionswhen all other options have been exhausted.” work together more effectively, staff will also be happier and remain in healthcare for longer. Rebecca Spirig, who is one of the committeeStakeholders pursuing their own interests members tabling the popular initiative, hopes that a yes vote will help to boost collaboration. “It would pave the way for reforms not only inThe complexity of the system makes it harder to form correlations nursing but within healthcare as a whole,” she says.and initiate fundamental reform in the long term. Indecision seemsto reign among national policymakers, who often get caught up inmatters of principle and are rarely able to compromise. Many pro-posed improvements fail to get past parliament, where key stakehold-Swiss Review / October 2021 / No. 5

10 ImagesFrom zeroes Granit Xhakato heroesThe sight of Swiss international XherdanShaqiri consoling his distraught young team-mate Ruben Vargas touched many of us thissummer. Standing behind the two was the­fatherly figure of Vladimir Petkovic, the­national coach already looking as if he hadprocessed what was a painful end to Switzer-land’s Euro 2020 campaign.They almost did it. After holding Spain to aone-all draw after 120 minutes of footballin the quarter-finals, Switzerland were a­penalty shoot-out away from reaching thelast four. Alas, it was not to be. Vargas was notthe only Swiss player to fail from the spot,but his miss was decisive.It marked the emotional end of a rollercoastercampaign – for players and fans alike. At thebeginning of Euro 2020, the Swiss public wasless than enamoured with its multiculturalnational side. Petkovic’s men were derided aspampered, overpaid prima donnas whose­expensive cars and dyed hair meant more tothem than giving their all on the pitch. Twovictories later, and everything was fine.­Switzerland managed to knock overconfidentfavourites France out of the tournament in apulsating encounter. Back at home, Shaqiriand co. were no longer pariahs but heroes forprogressing further in the competition thanever before.Be that as it may, coach Petkovic – much criti-cised, now suddenly fêted – stepped downfrom his post a few weeks later to join Frenchclub Bordeaux. By which time Ruben Vargas’stears had probably dried. JÜRG STEINER Xherdan Shakiri, Vladimir Petkovic Swiss Review / October 2021 / No. 5
11Yann Sommer Ruben Vargas Silvan Widmer, Ruben VargasSwiss Review / October 2021 / No. 5
12 Society Maverick farmer and rebel Bernard Rappaz in his element: surrounded by hemp. Archive photo: Keystone (2003) Bernard Rappaz, self-proclaimed Winkelried of cannabis The pugnacious hemp farmer from Valais, Bernard Rappaz, returned to the media spotlight with a brand of legal cannabis. But the adventure was cut short. Having experienced both fame and prison, the rebel has withdrawn to the village of Isérables. The plant to which he has devoted his life is now booming. STÉPHANE HERZOG your opinion, had come to an end. testing the distribution of marijuana, The name Bernard Rappaz was back “I left the company. I asked that my which will serve as a further boost to in the news a few months ago in Ge- name no longer be associated with the cultivation of this illegal plant. neva, with Holyweed, a brand special- this brand,” clarified Rappaz. Adventurer is the best word to de- ising in the sale of CBD: cannabis Cannabis, which led to the fall of scribe this child of Saxon, who comes without the high. One salesperson was the Valais hemp farmer, is back on the from an agricultural family, and who eager to sing the praises of the Swiss Swiss scene. Hemp production has transitioned from growing apricots to organic produce. And to cite the name greatly increased thanks to the re- growing cannabis in the 1990s. Media of the famous Valais hemp farmer as a lease of CBD. Between 2008 and 2020, attention, arrests, prison, trials, ap- partner in the company. Upon enquiry, the area dedicated to this crop has peals: this cannabis sativa activist has it was found that the commercial in- grown from six to 320 hectares, ac- lived a wild life. “Rappaz? He’s an ex- terest of the herald of hemp, or the cording to the Swiss Farmers’ Union. cellent agitator,” comments sociolo- dealer of the century, depending on Ironically, Switzerland is set to begin gist Gabriel Bender from Valais, men- Swiss Review / October 2021 / No. 5
13tioning a protest during his time in ­suspicious of the individual. He began ing to write to the Confederation toprison because his peers were not re- by telling him that his car was wrongly ask that cannabis grown for clinicalceiving enough fruit. “We are de- parked. Next, the local priest stopped trials be stamped as natural Swiss pro-prived of freedom, not dessert,” Rap- by, accompanied by a sacristan. The duce,” he declares passionately. Doespaz had declared. “He inhales smoke men had a drink together, before leav- he miss the media spotlight? “For aand blows it out as well,” continues ing for mass. Since then, the ex-pris- supporter of Buddhism like me, ego isthe local history expert, setting the oner has gained acceptance within the the worst enemy,” he answers. WhatBernard Rappaz saga within the curi- community. What does the former was his experience of prison? “I beganous history of Saxon. Since the 1960s, ­organic farmer think of CBD and the at 19, for refusing to pay military tax.this commune has been led by a party attempts to distribute marijuana? “I All in all, I must have spent ten yearsthat came from the Union des produc- tried producing cannabis that was low in prison. Prison is scary, because it’steurs valaisans (Union of producers in in THC myself, but the profit margin the unknown, but I got used to it.” AtValais). It set itself apart with its sup- was not high. In Valais, a small portion the Crêtelongue prison in the Rhoneport for union action against the in- of vineyards could be replaced by can- valley, the farmer taught prisoners toflux of agricultural products from It- nabis. It’s a plant which grows easily prune fruit trees. The man has usedaly, against fluorine pollution and and without plant protection products. hunger strikes as a weapon: “I beat allagainst the installation of hydroelec- Its production has to remain Swiss and the records, not eating for 120 days.” Intric plants on the Rhone River. In the natural.” his youth, Bernard Rappaz also partic-1970s, in need of workers for the har- ipated in a raid on a bank. The result:vest, Saxon saw the arrival of the hip- Ten years in prison 42 months in prison.pies. The Sapinhaut festival, which On his farm in Charrat, namedwas created at this time, brought to- The hemp farmer highlights the prob- l’Oasis (the Oasis), the hemp farmergether people who were against the lems with indoor cultivation, which is played with the ambiguities of the law.military, the clergy, etc. “Everything extremely energy-intensive. “I am go- His hemp went out in the form ofthat made conservatives in Valaisbristle,” comments Bender. This is thesetting in which Bernard Rappaz Not his first or lastgrew up. time in handcuffs: Bernard Rappaz on trial in Martigny inWithdrawal to Isérables 2011. Archive photo: KeystoneThe individual who claimed that can-nabis came somewhere between cof-fee and cigarettes is now living in atwo-room home in the isolated villageof Isérables, supported by his old-ageand survivor’s insurance. His home­offers an unobstructed view over theplain where, from the beginning of the1990s, he began planting and distrib-uting cannabis. “The more THC therewas, the better,” admits the Saxon na-tive, who still grows plants on his bal-cony. “The polite neighbours tell me Ihave beautiful geraniums,” he says.When he arrived in Isérables in 2016,Bernard Rappaz received a visit fromthe president of the municipality,Swiss Review / October 2021 / No. 5
14 Society hemp, for a total revenue of five mil- For someone who claims to be in-The Confederation is to test lion Swiss francs. Rappaz also pos- spired by Gandhi, the accusation ofthe dispensing of marijuana sessed a “gigantic” stock of hemp in a bodily injury seems surprising. Nee- factory in Chavalon, around 52 tons, man confirms that the event appearsThe Confederation is in the process of super- with a market value of 35 million to have consisted of a few slaps given vising the implementation of pilot trials in the francs. The sentence was upheld on to a young girl whilst Rappaz was ondistribution of cannabis for non-medicinal appeal. a trip to Laos with a female friend. Was purposes. In 2020, the decision sparked resist- his client drunk on money? His law- ance from SVP and CVP senators. “Cannabis A seemingly strict sentence yer considers that “he is not venal; heis more harmful than tobacco and the number is an idealist. He was constantly inof people dependent on it is constantly on the The former conscientious objector dis- debt and he was negligent with his rise,” argued Peter Hegglin (CVP/ZG). Public putes the court verdicts and regrets business.” bodies will participate in this cannabis distri- nothing. “I have dedicated my life to Gabriel Bender notes that, “Rap- bution under the umbrella of the Federal defending a plant which has been paz was imprisoned for years for­Office of Public Health. In Geneva, for example, made illegal for the wrong reasons, cannabis, whilst the Valais wine pro-the university has been mandated to lead and to testing and demonstrating its ducer Dominique Giroud, convictedtrials planned to commence in 2022. multiple uses: therapeutic, recrea- for tax evasion, has not served a sin-The studies will notably provide information tional and industrial,” he says. For Aba gle year. It is an archaic system. In or-on the effects of controlled access to cannabis Neeman, his lawyer since 1995, “the der to sanctify someone who drinkson the physical, psychic and social health and courts in Valais wanted to get rid of wine, you have to sacrifice someone well-being of consumers. Tons of cannabis him by giving him a long sentence, be- who smokes cannabis.” A journalistcontaining THC will be required. The Confed- cause each time he completed a period from Geneva who interviewed theeration aims for Swiss products, organic “if of imprisonment for hemp growing, hemp farmer recalls a character who possible”, cultivated thanks to legal exemp- he started with cannabis again”. At was very focused on himself. “Rap-tions. (SH) that time, a liberal wind was softening paz was isolated”, he considers. “I put attitudes towards cannabis, “but myself out in front, a bit like Winkel- judges apply the law, and do not take ried,” says Rappaz, comparing him- account of political considerations”. self to the legendary Swiss hero.cushions, infusions, oils and fibres.Doctors signed prescriptions for the Pensioner Rappaz atpurchase of products containing THC. home in Isérables. Not surprisingly,But things changed in 2006. The Val- he prefers cannabisais farmer was condemned to five to geraniums on hisyears and eight months imprison- balcony. Photo: Stéphane Herzogment by the district court of Martignyfor serious breach of the Narcotics Act,as well as for bodily injury, moneylaundering, serious breach of roadtraffic rules and breach of various so-cial security laws. Between 1997 and2001, according to the prosecutor,writes “Le Nouvelliste”, the Saxonfarmer, who was “the biggest canna-bis trafficker in Switzerland”, had setup a “colossal” drug trafficking sys-tem. During this period, he had ille-gally sold five tons of recreational Swiss Review / October 2021 / No. 5
Literature 15“Window into a more civilised world”In his 1967 work “Das Boot ist voll” (The boat is full), Alfred A. Häsler shone a lighton the shameful way in which Switzerland treated refugees between 1933 and 1945.CHARLES LINSMAYER out a trace, Häsler was able to launch his career as an inter-Alfred A. Häsler, who was born in Wilderswil (canton of viewer for “Tat” – thanks to the newspaper’s chief editorBerne) on 19 March 1921 and died in Zurich on 7 April 2009, Erwin Jaeckle.would have been 100 this year. Like no other Swiss authorof the 20th century, he used the media of newspapers and Learning from historytelevision to highlight great role models who epitomisedthe free and ethical thinking that constitutes the essential Everything that Häsler subsequently wrote, thought andfoundation of any credible democracy. Häsler was a well- campaigned for was founded on a promise that he made toknown figure for different generations – thanks to his in- himself in 1946 in the horrific aftermath of the Nazi atroci-terviews in the newspaper “Tat” and on Swiss television ties. He said in 1997: “At Auschwitz,with such personalities as Karl Barth, Jeanne Hersch and I made a pact with myself to doCarl-Friedrich von Weizsäcker. everything in my power as a writer and speaker to prevent a repeat ofThe fate of refugees what happened – and what we let happen – in 20th-century Chris-However, Häsler’s greatest legacy was “Das Boot ist voll” tian Europe due to too many states(The boat is full) – the 1967 work based on a series of arti- and nations, Switzerland included,cles in “Tat”, in which the author recounted the fate of ref- looking the other way. It is a pactugees who fled the Nazi regime but were turned away from we should all make.”Switzerland in many cases – telling their stories in a way Häsler, armed with nothing “We must always remember thethat hit the national psyche with palpable force. Moreover, more than a primary school edu- past. It should be a part of ourby no means was Häsler one of those who only criticised cation, rubbed shoulders with the lives. This is what history is allSwitzerland’s inhumane refugee policy after the event. Back leading intellectuals and thinkers about, isn’t it? Of course, wein 1939, the then 18-year-old typographer’s apprentice pub- of his time. But he always re-lished passionate pleas for his country to rediscover its hu- mained true to himself. “I never must consider what the pastmanitarian tradition of providing asylum. Häsler founded intended to write academic biog- means in the here and now – inhis own clandestine newspaper, “Stimme der Wahrheit” raphies or become a cultural critic. the knowledge that events such(Voice of Truth), in 1943 after growing tired of censorship. All I wanted was to give contempo- as the Holocaust, or the SecondAnd he became one of the first Swiss to visit the Auschwitz rary figures a platform and, if pos-concentration camp after the borders reopened – an expe- sible, provide a window into a World War with the enormousrience that shook him to the core. more civilised world.” devastation that it caused, also hinge on people like you and meCareer as an interviewer BIBLIOGRAPHY: “Das Boot ist voll” is available to a certain extent. In other from Diogenes as a paperback. words, do we say yes or no? CanHäsler soon had the opportunity to practise what hepreached, accompanying repeated aid shipments to East- we reject destruction and openern Europe – where he met his wife Zofia Pawliszewska, a our hearts to the creative forceswoman who had saved many Jews from the Nazis during For years, literary scholar and journalist in this world?”the Warsaw Uprising. The circumstances that led to him Charles Linsmayer’s pieces in this magazinebeing arrested for embezzlement of donations and made have focused on Swiss authors abroad. Alfred A. Häsler speaking to newspapera communist scapegoat in a highly politicised court case Linsmayer is now expanding his range to “Der Bund” on 6 May 1995in 1948 are still unclear. But instead of disappearing with- cover Swiss-based writers as well.Swiss Review / October 2021 / No. 5
16 Nature and the environmentThe weather extremes of climate changeHail and floods instead of hot and sunny – summer 2021 was a wet affair in Switzerland.Climate change is increasing the frequency of extreme weather events.THEODORA PETERWhile southern Europe sweltered in a heatwave, it rainedalmost non-stop in Switzerland this summer. The down-pours – torrential at times – caused streams, rivers andlakes to burst their banks. Emergency services were on con-tinuous alert, putting out sandbags and erecting barriersto keep the worst of the floods at bay. Switzerland wasspared the brunt of the July floods that devastated entirevalleys and claimed hundreds of lives in Germany and Bel-gium. However, the weather resulted in damage runninginto several hundreds of millions of Swiss francs. Farmswere badly affected, as vegetables rotted on flooded fields.Hail ripped through entire vineyards and fruit plantationswithin a matter of hours. The only plus side was that theconstant rain replenished reservoirs such as Lac de Bren-ets in the Jura, which had dried out completely in 2020. For-ests were also able to recover from the effects of previousdroughts.Warning from the IPCCFrom torrential rain to heatwaves – extreme weather willbecome more frequent and even more extreme in future. These properties were in the lake instead ofThis is the conclusion reached by more than 200 scientists CO2 emissions must fall next to it in July:from 66 countries, including Switzerland, in the latest re- heavy and sustainedport of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change As we know, greenhouse gases drive climate change. rainfall raised water(IPCC), which was published in August. Since the previous ­According to the IPCC report, CO2 concentrations in the levels to record highs,report in 2014, the effects of human-induced climate ­atmosphere in 2019 were 47 per cent higher than at the such as in Lake Biel. Photo: Keystonechange have become even more evident as global warm- ­beginning of the industrial age – and higher than at anying continues to accelerate. Global temperatures have risen other time in the last two million years. Only if CO2 emis-by 0.2°C in the last seven years alone. This may not seem sions fall sharply in the coming years and reach net zerolike a lot, but every tenth-of-a-degree increase leads to by 2050 will it be possible to keep global warming undereven more extreme weather around the globe. Switzerland the two-degree threshold set out in the Paris climate goals,is especially affected by climate change, as temperatures warn experts. However, even just a 1.5°C increase will likelyhere are rising almost twice as quickly as the global aver- lead to more frequent heavy rain events as well as “unprec-age. Back in 2018, the “Climate Scenarios for Switzerland” edented” provided detailed indications of how unchecked How serious is the international community aboutclimate change may affect Switzerland, citing more fre- delivering on climate action? We will find out in Novem-quent and intense heavy rainfall as one of the conse- ber, when the next UN climate conference takes place inquences. Since 1901, the level of precipitation associated Glasgow.with extreme rainfall events in Switzerland has increasedby 12 per cent. This is because warmer air can hold moremoisture – equating to some six to seven per cent more­water for every degree Celsius rise in temperature. Swiss Review / October 2021 / No. 5
Report 17 Borders far away, borders in the mind No other municipality in Switzerland is situated further from an international border than Uetendorf near Thun in the canton of Berne. Moreover, this typical Swiss suburban ­municipality lies on the urban-rural divide.JÜRG STEINER One of Berne’s noble families, the von Fischers had good intuition when theyAs if preordained by Mother Nature Fischers, built the Eichberg feudal chose Eichberg as a secluded hideout.some 14,000 years ago, there is some- country estate on one of Uetendorf’s The nearest international border fromthing unique about Uetendorf’s geo- hillocks, thereby giving Napoleon Uetendorf is 69 kilometres away as the Swissgraphical whereabouts. When the Bonaparte the slip at a time when the crow flies – further than from any e tremesAare Glacier slowly receded at the end French emperor was in the process of other point in Switzerland. Imagineof the last Ice Age, it left behind a land- curtailing the powers of Berne’s city you peeled away the “layers” of Swit-scape of small hills that today look like aristocrats. zerland like an onion, starting from its Higher, further, faster,natural viewing platforms offering a international borders and going more beautiful? Looking for those Swiss recordsview over Uetendorf and across the The remaining piece of Switzerland ­inwards. Carry on and you would be with a difference.levels of the Aare Valley to Thun. Look left with Uetendorf. Or, to be precise: Today: a visit to the place Around 200 years later, it was pure ­Silbermoos in Uetendorf. An unas- in Switzerland that is lo- ­coincidence when the Federal Office suming agricultural field would be the cated furthest from any of Topography announced that Ueten- last dot on the Swiss map if the rest of of the country’s interna- dorf enjoyed exclusive status as the the country melted away evenly from tional borders. furthest place from any of Switzer- its perimeter. A restaurant called land’s international borders – belated ­“Réduit” is situated not far from Silber- confirmation, so to speak, that the von moos. This is the name of the strategyThe Eichberg feudal country estate of the nobleBernese von Fischer family 68,8 kmup and you will see the rugged peaksof the Stockhorn massif. The BerneseAlps beyond Lake Thun round off theimpressive scenery on clear days. At the end of the 18th century,the patricians who ruled the city of The nearest international borderBerne – back then Europe’s most from Silbermoos near Uetendorfpowerful city state – were attracted is 68,880 metres away as theby Uetendorf’s favourable location. crow flies.Swiss Review / October 2021 / No. 5
18 Report(“redoubt strategy” in English) thatthe Swiss army would have used in theSecond World War in the event of anattack: retreat from the borders andregroup in the mountains.Psychological divide betweenurban and ruralThis geographical quirk is a nice gim-mick for Uetendorf and its 6,800 in-habitants. But look closer and you willsee a village that epitomises Switzer-land’s Central Plateau region. Surveythe tidy rows of houses in this tax-friendly municipality from one of thehillocks and you will recognise manyof the fault lines of modern Switzer-land: scarce agricultural land on theone hand, burgeoning residentialzone on the other; quiet farming vil-lage rubbing shoulders with busy in-dustrial estate; rural conservatismand urban vibrancy staring each otherout. Uetendorf, far away from Switzer-land’s borders, is at the intersection of Uetendorf is very has been a member of Berne’s can- lagers began to feel quite proud of neatly arranged: res- tonal parliament since 2010, but he ­having such a young mayor. idential zone, indus- also served as Uetendorf’s mayor for trial area, farmland, Alps in the distance. 12 years. Zaugg now represents the Railway for the landowners And he – Hannes Green Liberal Party. When he was Zaugg (left) – has elected as mayor of Uetendorf in 2001, Uetendorf might seem a sedate place, kept Uetendorf in the he belonged to the Swiss Social Dem- where foreigners account for seven news. Photos: z.arts.chthe urban-rural divide – the psycho- ocratic Party (SP). Some in the other- per cent of the population (well un-logical gulf that has become a domi- wise conservative-leaning village der the national average of 25 pernant factor in the country’s political “feared the worst”, says Zaugg, who cent), but it has felt the winds ofconversation. was only 30 at the time. But when the change on other key occasions. Take Local politician Hannes Zaugg- new man engaged with constituents the River Kander, which originallyGraf treads this sensitive terrain. He and eventually proved his worth, vil- flowed past Uetendorf into the River Swiss Review / October 2021 / No. 5
19Aare. The waterway flooded con- ceased operations at the beginning ofstantly, bringing well-chronicled the 1990s after its owner (financierpoverty and strife to the village. Werner K. Rey) went bankrupt, theBerne’s cantonal government de- shock waves lasted only a short while.creed in the mid-18th century that Convenient for commuters, not leastthe Kander should be redirected into because of the nearby motorway junc-Lake Thun. This helped to drain the tion, Uetendorf’s industrial areaUetendorf marshes and turn the vil- bounced back immediately – and haslage into a prosperous settlement been busy ever since.with prime farming land. “Although Uetendorf belongs to the The next boost came from the Thun conurbation, it has retained itsconstruction of a railway line through village feel,” says Zaugg. In his opinion,the Gürbetal valley at the beginning this is also because local politiciansof the 20th century. Trains were actu- manage to bridge the ideological gapally meant to have run from Berne to between conservative and progressive.Thun via the Stockental valley, but it For example, their municipal plan-was particularly down to the influ- ning approach favouring increasedence of the landowners at Eichberg density towards the centre of the vil-that the line was altered to run lage protects farming land but it also They hail from Ueten- i nterpretation of the urban-rural ­through Uetendorf. restricts population and tax revenue dorf, although they ­divide. Eberhart grew up in the village. dream of more dis- growth. According to Zaugg, the local He first performed as a singer during tant, exotic locations:Culture of greeting cultural concept includes greeting Schlager band Calim- a variety evening at the local ice each other in the street. eros with frontman hockey club in 1976 – the beginning ofThe railway line would later fuel a Roland Eberhart. a spectacular career spanning over Photo: PD­local boom. With economic growth The Calimero of Uetendorf 40 years. The Calimeros still release apicking up after the Second World War, new album practically every year.Thun-based metal processing com- Roland Eberhart, founder and band Themes on their latest LP include jet-pany Selve wanted to expand. Ueten- leader of the Calimeros, well-known ting off to exotic holiday destinationsdorf with its industrial zone was the exponents of the “Schlager” music like the Bahamas.perfect location to do so. When Selve genre, appreciates Uetendorf’s neat The band’s recording studio is ­located in the heart of Uetendorf’s in- dustrial estate. Heavy goods vehicles come and go next door. Every year, the Calimeros give their legendary open- air concert out in the car park. Crea- tive linchpin Eberhart likes the place for its hustle and bustle. But when he gazes out of his office window or rides around on his bike, he also enjoys the tranquil cornfields, the trees rustling in the breeze, and the majestic Alpine Reminiscent of an old, rural Bernese peaks in the distance: “This contrast church, it’s actually inspires me immensely.” No borders relatively modern or divides to speak of. having been built in 1954: the church in Uetendorf. Photo: www.uetendorf.chSwiss Review / October 2021 / No. 5
20 PoliticsIndependence of the judiciary under scrutinyAnyone who wants to become a federal judge in Switzerland must join a political party. This has raised concernsabout the separation of powers within the federal structure. The Justice Initiative wants radical change.It will be put to voters on 28 November. THEODORA PETER However, this unwritten rule – a sort of gentlemen’s agree- The Federal Supreme Court (FSC) in Lausanne is Switzer- ment – means that anyone who wants to sit on the bench land’s highest court. It provides final rulings on the legiti- must join a political party. Judges must pay an annual sub- macy of verdicts reached by lower courts as well as on scription fee to “their” party, of between 3,000 and 10,000 points of law that affect the lives of millions of people in Swiss francs depending on the party (federal judges earn aThe marble entrance to Switzerland. As the third branch of the federal state, the salary of 365,000 francs). This idiosyncrasy has long been the Federal Supreme FSC is subordinate only to the law. The United Federal the subject of criticism abroad. The Group of States against Court in Lausanne: ­Assembly representing both chambers of parliament elects Corruption (GRECO) – the Council of Europe’s anti-corrup- will the judges climb- the FSC judges. When doing so, it deliberately takes account tion body – believes the fee violates the principle of judicial ing these steps be of the respective strength of the parliamentary parties to independence. One of the arguments given by Switzerland decided by the luck of the draw in future? ensure that the FSC adequately represents society and has to justify the tradition is that its political parties receive no Photo: Keystone democratic legitimacy. public funding, unlike in other countries. Unpopular judges voted out Another GRECO criticism is that the federal judges have to be re-elected by parliament every six years. In its opinion, this procedure risks judges being voted out on political grounds. Indeed, punitive action against unpopular judges is not uncommon in Switzerland. In autumn 2020, the SVP recommended its own federal judge Yves Donzallaz for deselection because Donzallaz had contradicted the party line. In 2015, he had been involved in an FSC decision that saw the Swiss-EU Agreement on the free movement of ­persons take precedence over the “Stop mass immigration initiative” that the SVP had successfully put to the people. In the end, Donzallaz was comfortably re-elected by par- liament – albeit without any votes from “his” party. The “crucifix case” made headlines in the 1990s, when the FSC established the principle, specifically with regard to primary schools, that crucifixes were contrary to reli- gious neutrality. Catholics thought this verdict was dis- criminatory. The federal judges involved were re-elected but received a relatively low number of votes as punish- ment. Drawing lots Businessman Adrian Gasser has long been one of the crit- ics of this intertwining of politics and the judiciary. Gasser is the author of the Justice Initiative being put to voters on 28 November – a radical proposal that calls for federal Swiss Review / October 2021 / No. 5
Switzerland in figures 21 Daddy time 78 Swiss fathers enjoy devoting lots of time to their children – if you believe what most of them say. And we want to believe them. However, 78 per cent of fathers with children aged three or younger work full-time in Switzerland. In practice, only two per cent devote maximum time to childcare as the bona fide house husband.judges to be appointed by drawing lots, and not throughelection by parliament. Judges would have greater inde- 97pendence by no longer being bound to any party. A special-ist committee appointed by the Federal Council wouldonly scrutinise the professional suitability of candidates.Through this change in the system, Gasser hopes to prevent It is easier for partners to share childcare duties when both receivethe courts from “slowly but surely becoming party politi- the same salary for the same amount of work. According to thecal instruments”. He says the method of drawing lots was University of St Gallen, women receive equal pay at 97 per cent ofcommon back in Ancient Greece as a means of counteract- Swiss companies. However, the university only surveyed companiesing bribery and influence. with 100 or more employees – and these businesses were allowed Policymakers are sceptical of Gasser’s proposal. Both to prepare the relevant salary data themselves.the Federal Council and parliament are unanimous in 1512­recommending that the popular initiative be rejected, fullstop. Leaving the appointment of judges to chance wouldweaken the democratic legitimacy of the courts and erodepublic confidence in the decisions they make, argue op- Hence, we should possibly think twice before dismissing the statisticsponents. The current system is far from perfect, admits provided by the Federal Office for Gender Equality. These paint athe chairman of the parliamentary judicial committee, ­different picture: the average full-time wage in Switzerland is 7,968FDP member of the Council of States Andrea Caroni (can- francs for men but 6,456 francs for women. Most of this 1,512-francton of Aargau). But the “institutional immune system”, as difference is “inexplicable” – in other words, due to discrimination.he calls it, has always helped to avert possible manipula-tion. Caroni puts forward the Donzallaz case as a recent 25example. Those at the centre of the debate – the judges – also­reject the idea of drawing lots, although the Swiss Judges’Association (SJA) believes that the situation could never- Not many people know this, but orders for photo books were up by astheless be improved. For example, by being elected just much as 25 per cent in 2020 (depending on which photo book companyonce, judges could be spared the party political pressure you ask). We all had plenty of time to reminisce during last year’sassociated with re-election. This already happens in the lockdown. The same companies now say that orders have plummeted.canton of Fribourg, where judges and prosecutors are This is because wedding and holiday photos were a rarity in 2020.elected for an indefinite period but can still be dismissed 13on serious grounds. Abolishing party subscription feeswould also “boost judicial independence”, says the SJA.However, the Federal Council and parliament refuse toconsider any form of counterproposal. Voters will now With a total of 13 medals, Switzerland ended the Tokyo Olympics inhave the last word. 24th position on the table. To put a much better spin on this: Switzerland would be ranked 15th if its athletes’ performances were judged in relation to population size. That is one medal for every 660,000 Swiss.Justiz-Initiative: FIGURES COMPILED BY MARC Review / October 2021 / No. 5
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