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Swiss president Maurer abandons Facebook

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Swiss president Maurer abandons Facebook
Ueli Maurer's now defunct Facebook page. (Screenshot)
21:06 CEST+02:00
Disappointed with the results of his brief foray into the most popular social medium on earth, Swiss President Ueli Maurer has given up his Facebook account.

Maurer, 60, a member of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, deactivated his account on Thursday evening, indicating that he was unhappy with the level of discourse in his exchanges with the public.

“He was expecting, effectively, more substance and political content,” his spokesman Karin Suini said, according to a report from the Tamedia group’s Newsnet.

The account had been open for less than four months.

Maurer, who is also minister of defence, civil protection and sports, opened the Facebook account at the beginning of the year, when he took over as Switzerland’s president, a position that rotates annually among members of the federal cabinet.

“He involved himself a lot in the content but he has been a bit disillusioned by the lack of  relevance of the comments,” Suini said. 

Maurer — a German-speaker from Zurich — got off on the wrong foot when he launched his Facebook page on January 1st in French. 

Unfortunately, it was not correct French — he used the non-existent verb “expresser” instead of “exprimer” to express best wishes for the New Year to his readers.

That start went off like a lead balloon in Francophone Switzerland, although commentary generally remained polite.

His page never galvanized much interest in German-speaking Switzerland, although he collected more than 3,000 “likes” for his efforts.

Maurer is not abandoning the internet, though don’t look for his mug on Pheed or Instagram anytime soon.

Instead, he launched on Thursday a blog on the defence department website, to which members of the public are invited to contribute their opinions. 

Commentary, however, will remain invisible on the blog.

The first blog post, with versions in Switzerland’s three languages — French, German and Italian — argues in support of the country’s planned purchase of 22 Gripen fighter jets from Sweden.

Maurer argues the planes are needed to help defend the country and keep it prosperous.   

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