• Switzerland's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Swiss leader's commute turns Twitter sensation

Caroline Bishop · 4 Sep 2014, 17:44

Published: 04 Sep 2014 17:44 GMT+02:00

The photograph was taken by a journalist from newspaper Le Temps, Serge Jubin, and posted on Facebook with an accompanying comment that suggested an innate Swissness in Burkhalter’s ability to act like any other member of the public when out and about.

“Switzerland: marvellous country where the president of the Confederation can cheerfully tap away on his smartphone on the platform at Neuchâtel station amongst other train users...”

The photo and comment were subsequently posted on Twitter by RTS journalist Magali Philip (@magaliphilip) and then retweeted with an English comment by Zurich resident Ralph Straumann (@rastrau).

It is this English tweet that is making its way around the world, with around 800 retweets and 300 favourites by accounts from as far afield as India, Brazil and Bhutan.

Reaction to the photo has ranged from surprise to cynicism, with many feeling Switzerland’s neutrality and direct system of governance allows its president such freedom.

Nicolas Bideau, Ambassador for Swiss promotional body House of Switzerland, also retweeted the photo.

Speaking to The Local, Bideau said the photo illustrated the close relationship between the president and the people in Switzerland.

“Our country is well-known as a direct democracy. The government is able to show that it is close to the people and the people respect that [by] not annoying a member of the government in the train.”

Despite Switzerland’s reputation for isolationism, the photo shows what an open society the country has, he added.

“Sometimes people think we are a bit selfish, an island,” he told The Local. “But I think [the photo] shows the openness we have towards the people generally.”

Story continues below…

“It also shows that Switzerland is a safe country,” he added.

Around the world, many tweeters seemed to envy such freedom for their politicians.

“Can we dream it?” tweeted Indian twitter user @mkdburman.

While Brazilian @JamilChade tweeted: “The Swiss president takes the train without security or assistant. A challenge for Brazilian politicians?”

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Caroline Bishop (news@thelocal.ch)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Swiss helicopter crash: technical fault ruled out
Two pilots died in the crash on the Gotthard pass. Photo: Michael Buholzer/AFP

Technical failure was not to blame for the crash involving a Swiss army helicopter on the Gotthard pass on Thursday.

Turkey angry after Swiss tout ‘kebab ban’
Is banning the burqa as 'foolish' as banning the kebab? Photo: Jason Ramos

Turkish kebab chefs are up in arms after they misunderstood a spoof campaign to ban the kebab in Switzerland.

Study: Swiss ski resorts are losing their snow
Snow was thin on the ground in Gstaad last December. Photo: The Local

Could spring skiing soon be a thing of the past?

UBS fined $15m for misselling investments
File photo: Martin Abegglen

The Swiss private banking giant is accused of selling risky derivative investments to inexperienced investors in the US.

Two dead in Swiss army helicopter crash
The crash happened near the hospice on the Gotthard pass. File photo: swiss-image.ch/Heinz Schwab

Two people died and one other was injured when a helicopter crashed on the Gotthard pass in the Swiss alps on Wednesday.

Bern wants Swiss women to work longer
File photo: Candida Performa

The lower house of parliament has voted to extend women's retirement age by one year to 65.

11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
The Swiss - don't make them wait in the cold. Photo: Lara de Salis

Swiss student Lara de Salis, currently studying in the UK, explains why she’s sick of hearing foreigners spouting these old clichés.

Switzerland still world’s ‘most competitive’ nation
Switzerland: still enjoying the view from the top. File photo: Robert Boesch

Switzerland has topped the World Economic Forum’s annual competitiveness ranking for the eighth consecutive year.

Swiss hunting season claims human lives
The hunting season started ten days ago. File photo: Umberto Nicoletti

Several hunters have died in accidents over the past few days.

Sacked Fifa executive hits back in Zurich court
Kattner was sacked in May. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Fifa's disgraced former secretary general Markus Kattner has begun legal action to challenge his "unjustified" sacking.

Sponsored Article
7 tips for learning Swiss French
Photo: AFP
National
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
National
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Photo: File
Politics
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Education
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
Photo: AFP
Society
Swiss ‘slave children’ to finally get compensation
Photo: Jan Geerk/Swiss-image.ch
Lifestyle
Zurich named ‘greenest’ city on the planet
Photo: Swiss
National
Brawl over seats forces Swiss to abort flight
Photo: Daniel Stockhammer
Culture
Research shows typical Swiss chalets ‘not actually Swiss’
Photo: AFP
National
Switzerland to get nationwide disaster alert system
Photo: S3
National
Swiss space firm boss left badly injured in violent attack
Photo: ETH Zurich
Education
ETH Zurich crowned best uni in continental Europe – again
File photo: Martin Abegglen
National
Report: Swiss citizenship rules leave some stateless
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
National
Fatal crash: pilot told to fly below safe altitude
Photo: Peter Linke
Business & Money
Elderly Italian on benefits stashed €1m in Swiss bank
Photo: Stuart Richards
Society
Court sides with chickens in dispute over noisy henhouse
Photo: SAC
Lifestyle
Hiking: 7 incredible Swiss Alpine Club cabins
Photo: David Abercrombie
National
Swiss politician arrested over illegal entry of migrants
Photo: Coiffure X
National
Chewbacca stolen in ‘terrorist attack’ on Swiss hair salon
Photo: AFP
National
Foreigners in Switzerland surpass 2 million mark
Photo: AFP
National
Expert predicts major quake for Switzerland by 2040
Photo: The Local
National
Geneva runs out of permits for non-EU workers
Photo:C Carlstead
National
Geneva advises teachers on religion in school
4,379
jobs available