“We give the virus the greatest pleasure when we quarrel,” warned Federal President Guy Parmelin on Wednesday. It is “really, really important that we continue down this path together”.
Less than two hours later, Parmelin’s own party, the SVP, sharply criticized the Federal Council. This seems to have “completely lost touch with reality,” she railed. Some SVP politicians chose clear words on Twitter. Group leader Thomas Aeschi, for example, accused the Federal Council of driving “Switzerland into poverty”.
SVP National Councilor Roger Köppel targeted the SP Federal Councilor and Health Minister Alain Berset: “Boulevard superstar Berset is closing Switzerland due to ‘uncertainties’ about the new virus mutation.” The decision was not made by Berset, but by the entire Federal Council.
The aggravators of the SVP
In contrast to the first lockdown, criticism of the Federal Council has rained from various parties recently. That of the SVP is particularly fundamental and sharp in tone. As early as the end of December, she called for the restaurants to be opened immediately – and consequences for personnel.
At the same time, ironically, the party has several cantonal health directors who made headlines nationally with their tightening. The Bernese Pierre Alain Schnegg, for example, was the first to ban major events in October.
Jean-Pierre Gallati from Aargau rushed ahead with shop closings before Christmas. In Zurich, Health Director Natalie Rickli let it be known several times that she was in favor of tougher measures. And the Thurgau health director Urs Martin, also SVP, said on Thursday that he understands the recent decisions of the Federal Council.
But apart from SVP politicians in executive offices, the position of the SVP leadership in the corona crisis seems to be widely supported within the party – especially after the renewed tightening. Talks with SVP politicians show that the stance of the national party is supported in terms of content, only the sharp tone is occasionally criticized.
Pulling the rope around the Federal President
Guy Parmelin thus also comes into conflict. As Federal President he has to represent the position of the Federal Council – the one that is heavily criticized by his party. But how did he position himself on Wednesday? The “Blick” reported that Parmelin had changed camp overnight and spoke out in favor of the tightening. SVP parliamentary group leader Thomas Aeschi publicly contradicted on Twitter: Parmelin had fought the extension and tightening of the measures.
Parmelins department does not want to comment. The principle of collegiality applies in the Federal Council: All members represent the decision made in public – personal opinions should remain secret.
SVP National Councilor Aeschi suspects that false information is being deliberately spread in order to drive a wedge between Parmelin and Ueli Maurer. “The SVP federal councilors respect the principle of collegiality,” he says. “But if information from the Federal Council meeting is disseminated and I know firsthand that it is wrong, it is my duty as the parliamentary group president to correct it.”
The fact that only Maurer really resisted the tightening at the meeting is consistent with information from the CH Media editorial team. According to reports, Parmelin has spoken out in advance in a joint report against the closure of the shops. He argues that it is still too early to tighten it. In the meeting itself – which he led as Federal President – he no longer opposed in view of the majority situation.
SVP wants a special session
The SVP is now relying on parliament. On Thursday, Aeschi submitted an application to the health commission for a declaration to convene an extraordinary session. According to Aeschi, the commission should decide on Friday.
By the way, the criticism of Aeschi’s statement about Parmelin was not long in coming. CVP President Gerhard Pfister grabbed the keys: If Aeschi wanted to switch to a government / opposition model, he should say so, he decided.