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Swiss politicians earn millions a year from finance sector roles

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Swiss politicians earn millions a year from finance sector roles
The Swiss parliament in Bern. Photo: AFP
08:51 CEST+02:00
Swiss MPs and senators earn a combined 6.5 million Swiss francs (€5.85 million) from positions in the finance and insurance sectors, a new study suggests.

Politicians in the lower and upper house of the parliament collect around 5.1 million francs from finance sector positions while they earn a further 1.4 million francs from the insurance industry, according to the study looking at potential conflicts of interest among Swiss parliamentarians.

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Almost half of that money is earned by the MPs and senators with the centre-right Liberals (FDP), while the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) makes up 25 percent and the conservative CVP 19 percent, the authors of the study argue.

The remainder of Switzerland’s parties receive just five percent of this money from the finance and insurance sectors.

The study, which has not yet been published, was carried out by two independent experts and commissioned by Socialist MP Cédric Wermuth.

It is based on publicly accessible data as well as interviews with industry experts and examination of company reports.

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“A lot of politicians are simply paid for,” Wermuth told Swiss newspaper SonntagsBlick, which revealed details of the study.

“Parties on the right have been backed by banks and insurance companies for ever,” he said.

Unlike in many other countries, a great number of Swiss parliamentarians are non-professional politicians and continue to hold other jobs or roles with professional industry bodies. A look at the list of declared interests shows these politicians external roles include everything from being a master brewer to working as a pilot. There are also plenty of lawyers.

Under Swiss parliamentary rules, MPs and senators are obliged to reveal their business interests including jobs or board positions held but do not need to reveal how much they earn.

Transparency International believes this increases the danger of corruption in the system. However, politicians with jobs in the insurance industry told SonntagsBlick their voting in the parliament remained independent.

In its report on Sunday, SonntagsBlick also noted a different picture of politicians’ earnings would be revealed in a study that looked instead at money coming from unions and NGOs.

 
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