ANALYSIS: How Switzerland’s major parties disagree on how to revive economy?
Starting on May 4th and until May 8th, Swiss MPs are holding an ‘extraordinary session’ of parliament to debate the future of the country’s economy, which has weakened during the global Covid-19 pandemic.
The parties and deputies have divergent views on how to help Switzerland’s economy recover from the massive losses, estimated to be at least between 22 and 35 billion francs.
SVP/ UDC: ‘Immediate lifting of the emergency measures’
On its website, the right-wing Swiss People's Party calls for the immediate lifting of the emergency measures imposed by the Federal Council on March 16th, which, the party claims, costs Switzerland 6 billion francs per week.
“The measures against the coronavirus have disastrous effects on the economy”, the SVP said, adding that “more than a third of employees are partially unemployed and more than 150,000 people have lost their jobs” during the crisis.
Switzerland’s largest party also wants to suspend the free movement of people, which would enable employers to give Swiss residents priority in hiring, and to “stop distributing hundreds of millions of francs abroad”.
Noting also that about 97 percent of those who died from Covid-19 were people aged over 65, with preexisting pathologies, the SVP points out that this segment of the population should remain under the lockdown, while the others “must once again be able to go to the shops, work and participate in social life — in short, live normally”.
Social Democrats: Strengthening purchasing power
The socialist party plans to present a motion this week calling for the government to strengthen the purchasing power because “many people rightly fear for their basic needs", the group wrote in its press release.
"In the context of partial unemployment, wages must be guaranteed at 100 percent, for all incomes up to the median wage," the party’s leader, Roger Nordmann, said.
The group is also requesting an investment program and a fund that is financed by the Swiss National Bank’s (SNB) reserves and high-income individuals.
PLR: A ‘liberal strategy’ to end the crisis
For the parliamentary group of the Free Democratic Party it is "imperative to avoid a collapse of the economy, thousands of jobs being threatened".
The party also supports the Federal Council’s initiative to allocate additional funds to overcome the crisis, including to the military and the aviation sector.
The PLR is also urging the Federal Council to invest specifically in research and development "to deal with this crisis and to prepare for similar crises in the future".
PDC: Strengthening the health system and supporting children’s care
The Christian Democratic party has announced that it would intervene “to strengthen the health system, sustainable economy, and political rights”. It also unanimously approved the supplement to the 2020 budget as proposed by the Federal Council.
The PDC would also like an additional 65 million francs to be made available to childcare institutions, which are in need of financial assistance due to the loss of revenue resulting from the coronavirus crisis.
The group is also urging the Federal Council "to examine all measures aimed at reducing, in the future, the dependence of the Swiss economy on international supply and production chains".
The Green Party: Helping nurseries rather than airplanes
The Greens advocate the distribution of the reserves of the Swiss National Bank to those who have been most impacted by the health crisis, including nurseries and day care facilities. Additionally, companies with short-term unemployment should not distribute dividends to their shareholders.
The party also demands that investments intended to support the economy respect the climate.
"The structural mutation accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis must be oriented in a socially, ecologically, and climate- sustainable direction", the party noted on its website.