No three Confederates, but taped microphones: The extraordinary session meets in a charm-free environment.
“Those up there in Bern” will politicize even higher next week: not in the Bundeshaus in Bern city center, but – slightly raised and a ten-minute tram ride away – on the outskirts. Specifically, in the halls of the Bernexpo exhibition center.
An extraordinary venue for an extraordinary session. And this in extraordinary times. Because from May 4th to 8th, the national and councils of states will devote themselves to the all-dominating issue of our time: the corona crisis.
It’s like a graphic artist turning the wheel of his computer mouse and enlarging everything by a factor of X.
SRF Bundestag editor Gaudenz Wacker was able to get an idea of the premises. He noticed the dimensions of the “Exile Parliament” beforehand: “It’s like a graphic artist turning the wheel of his computer mouse and enlarging everything by a factor of X.”
Each member of parliament has their own work table. The chairs are at least two meters apart. A lot will change, especially for the councils of states: Instead of speaking from their place as before, they have to go up to the lectern.
Sober working atmosphere
“For the Council of States, which sees itself as a deliberate Chambre de Refléxion, this is a lot of getting used to,” says Wacker. President of the Council of States Hans Stöckli expects that this will also have an impact on the culture of debate. “Simply because fewer councilors will vote.”
However, some things remain familiar. The seating arrangement is identical, even the aisles are arranged as you know it. «Otherwise everything seems very sober. The whole exudes the charm of a mega-bunker rather than that of the Federal Parliament. »
The Züglete’s steep price tag has something to talk about. The meeting of parliamentarians costs an additional CHF 3 million. “Democracy must not be assessed according to costs,” said President of the Council of States Hans Stöckli (SP / BE). The Swiss political system is usually very inexpensive. However, he himself was “amazed” by the amount of the costs for the extraordinary session. However, he did not negotiate the prices.
“We did not charge a Corona price – neither upwards nor downwards,” assured Bernexpo boss Jennifer Somm during the media tour. The conditions are customary in the market. Somm rents the halls at less than a million. There are also costs for the technical infrastructure and personnel.
The National Council on the move
The National Council needed more and more space in its history – and therefore had to move several times. In the first years after the founding of the Confederation in 1848, the National Council met in the old casino, which had to give way to today’s parliament building in 1895. Less than ten years later (1856) the council moved to the newly built Federal City Hall, today’s Bundeshaus West, which was right next to the old casino.
The Parliament Library is located in the former National Council Hall in the Bundeshaus West: since the completion of the Parliament Building in 1902, the United Federal Assembly and the National Council have met in today’s National Council Hall.
It is already becoming apparent that the summer session cannot take place in the Bundeshaus either. It is entirely conceivable that this will also be held in exile at the Bernexpo. The decision will be made on Friday. “The entire facility could then remain in operation until June,” says Wacker. According to the trade fair operator, the parliament would have to pay a flat rate for this. “But that would still be cheaper than if you had to put everything back in and out.”