Swiss transport minister snapped sitting on steps of crowded train
Passengers sitting on the steps between floors on a crowded double-decker train may be a common sight during rush hour in Switzerland, but a photo that appears to show Swiss transport minister Doris Leuthard doing so last Friday attracted plenty of attention over the weekend.
The photo was posted by national broadcaster SRF on its Twitter account and reportedly shows Leuthard – also one of Switzerland’s seven presidents – on her way to Zurich for the filming of the political talk show Arena on Friday.
Ungemein sympathisch, dieser «Auftritt» von Bundesrätin Doris #Leuthard. Auf ihrem Weg in die #SRF #Arena setzt sie sich im vollen Zug ganz einfach auf die Treppe. Ab 22.25 Uhr diskutiert die Verkehrsministerin auf SRF1 über den Gegenvorschlag zur Velo-Initiative. pic.twitter.com/wnWHtvh69m— SRF News (@srfnews) August 31, 2018
In its tweet, SRF described the “appearance” of Leuthard, who can only be seen from the rear in the image, as “extremely likeable”.
But not all observers were impressed by the fact that the state broadcaster had praised the actions of the person ultimately responsible for its operations – Leuthard is also the country’s communications minister.
“Extremely state broadcaster-y this tweet,” responded one person on Twitter, while another suggested it may have been a case of “clever PR” and wondered whether Leuthard had been keeping an eye on the communications tactics of UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
In 2016, the UK politician sat down on the floor of what he described as a "ram-packed" train, using the opportunity to drum up support for his proposal to re-nationalise the British rail network. The UK's Guardian newspaper failed to mention in its original article that Corbyn had been found a seat some 45 minutes into his journey, thus giving rise to the 'traingate' affair in which the Labour leader was accused of having lied about the train being full to suit his political purposes.
In the case of the Leuthard picture, others wondered why the Swiss politician – who earlier this year came out of a scandal involving illegal subsidies at the government-operated PostBus a little the worse for wear – should come in for special praise for doing something so normal.
“I do that every day. Does that make me likeable now too?” one Twitter user asked.
Not everyone was so cynical though. “Whether its PR or state broadcaster-y this is something you hardly see anywhere else. Our half-direct democracy helps keep our politicians a little grounded,” said another user of the social media platform.