Sommaruga lauds ‘bold’ Swiss democracy

Swiss president for 2015, Simonetta Sommaruga, extolled Switzerland’s system of direct democracy in a TV and radio address to mark the new year.

Sommaruga lauds 'bold' Swiss democracy
Simonetta Sommaruga in her New Year's address. Screenshot: SRF

Nowhere in the world do citizens have as much power – and responsibility – as in Switzerland, the newly elected president told the nation.

“This is what I like about our democracy: it is bold and expects a lot of us,” Sommaruga said.

The 54-year-old Social Democrat from Bern said she is fully convinced that the Swiss political system is perfectly suited to the current times.

The fact that citizens bear responsibility alongside the government and parliament creates “proximity and identity”, she said, and Switzerland needs this more than ever in an age of globalization.

Sommaruga made her address from the fruit and vegetable market close to the federal parliament building in Bern.

Drawing a comparison between Switzerland and the market, where she has shopped for many years, Sommaruga said both had long since been marked by globalization.

“The tuna fish you can buy here doesn’t come from Lake Thun, and the mango on sale was not grown on the banks of the River Aare,” she said.

Exotic fruit and vegetables now belong to the market alongside homegrown apples and lettuces, the new president added.

Swiss identity is as much about openness and solidarity as about tradition, and global connections as well as domestic roots, she said.

Sommaruga said she expected 2015 to be a challenging year. “But I am sure it can be a good year,” she concluded.

The member of the Federal Council will serve a one-year presidential term under Switzerland’s rotating presidency, while continuing in her role as justice minister.

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