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SVP politician quits to go back on the rails

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SVP politician quits to go back on the rails
22:58 CEST+02:00
Millionaire businessman and Swiss People's Party (SVP) MP Peter Spuhler denies he is quitting parliament because of problems faced by his party.

The 53-year-old federal MP for the canton of Thurgau reiterated on Tuesday that he is stepping down at the end of the year to concentrate on his entrepreneurial activities.

Spuhler, who has served in the lower house of parliament since 1999, is owner and CEO of the Stadler Rail Group, a maker of trains with subsidiaries in several countries, including the US.

In a press release, the prominent politician said that after much thought he decided  “due to the difficult economic environment” to concentrate on his business activities rather than his political ambitions.

Because of the economic weakness of the euro area and the relative strength of the Swiss franc, Spuhler said Stadler Rail would increasingly have to pursue customers outside of Europe.

That will mean that he has travel around the world a lot.

The situation has led him to focus more on his work as head of Stadler, in addition to his involvement with three other companies.

With sales of 1.4 billion francs last year, Stadler Rail employs 4,500 workers.

“The health of my employees is in my heart,” Spuhler said in his statement.

“The situation in our key markets - such as Italy, Spain as well as Eastern Europe - is worse, with a lower order volume,” he told Tages Anzeiger newspaper.
 
Stadler still has a full order book, “but we must now apply for procurement contracts for 2014 or later,” he said.

“In this difficult situation, I had to decide between Stadler and politics.”

Switzerland's most popular political party, the right-wing SVP is facing challenges after losing its second seat on the seven-person federal cabinet several years ago and its anti-immigration policies have repeatedly come under fire.

Spuhler said the SVP thrives on tough debates and his resignation has “nothing to do” with disagreements between him and the party.

He plans to remain a member of the party and has not ruled out an eventual return to politics.

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