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Christoph Blocher quits ‘bureaucratic' parliament

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Blocher made the announcement on his own internet TV channel. Screenshot: Teleblocher.ch
14:39 CEST+02:00
Christoph Blocher, the controversial figurehead of the right-wing Swiss People's Party, is to quit parliament at the end of May.

The former cabinet minister made the surprise announcement of his resignation from the National Council on his internet portal Teleblocher.ch.

The pugnacious politician said he was “wasting too much time in parliament” and wanted to use his time differently.

“Today I am announcing my resignation as of May 31st,” Blocher said in a televised statement, adding that he had written to SVP president Toni Brunner telling him of his intentions.

Blocher – a billionaire businessman – said the National Council had become very bureaucratic.

He added that he wanted to redefine his political priorities and focus on referendums, notably implementation of the initiative against mass immigration approved by the people on February 9th, and a planned initiative on preventing Switzerland joining the European Union.

"To be able to concentrate on these two most important projects, everything that is secondary has to be set aside," he said.

The trained lawyer said he would continue as vice-president of the SVP.

The right-wing politician served a first term in parliament from 1979 to 2003 and served in the cabinet as justice minister from 2003 until 2007 when he failed to win re-election.

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Blocher returned to parliament in 2011, but is frequently absent from the chamber, according to the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper online. It quoted a Politnetz survey, according to which Blocher has missed 36 percent of all votes.

The Blick tabloid said SVP president Ueli Maurer appeared taken aback by Blocher’s announcement.

Speaking in Bern, Maurer described the party’s leading light as “the most outstanding politician of recent decades”. 

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