Thursday, 12 April 2018

Presidential heavyweights 'battle' it out for top spot

Front cover of this week's Winterthurer Zeitung
The headline story of the Winterthurer Zeitung this week features Michael Künzle, current president of Winterthur, and Yvonne Beutler who is hoping to take his place in the elections to be held on 15th April (Sunday!) I guess it is a battle between the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland, also known as the Swiss Socialist Party, (Yvonne) and the more traditional Christian Democratic People's Party of Switzerland (Michael)

Under the promising headline ‘Collegiality gives way to rivalry’ I thought the ‘interviews’ fairly staid and one-dimensional. I would have liked to see more interesting questions such as What do you think Winterthur will look like in 20 years time? and What do you think of Universal Basic Income? How do you think we can combat the increased automation of people’s jobs? Etc, etc…

I mean, this is a big job right? Winterthur is a fantastic, cultural city, full of incredible, enthusiastic people. It should be at the forefront of culture and progress in the most dynamic way. The only revealing answer on these lines was following the one statement put by the newspaper reporter as: I want to be President of the City because I can bring Winterthur more than my opponent. Here are the replies:

Michael Künzle: I have proven in recent years that I am committed to our city. Our city is doing well. The track record, which I have achieved together with the city council, can be seen. We stabilized the finances, increased the number of employees, renewed the cultural mission statement and subsidy agreements, took decisive steps in the urban museum concept, introduced integrated location marketing, concluded a development agreement with SBB, prevented the school of engineering from leaving the company, and the Frauenfeld crisis AG mastered, the police building brought by the referendum and so on. In the future, we will continue to need stable finances, more jobs, a mixed population, a diverse culture and sports facilities. The goal is a modern, innovative, self-confident city with a high quality of life.

Yvonne Beutler: Winterthur has the choice between two "models" of a city council: a conservative city father and a modern city president, who sees the focus not only in representation, but also in leadership. Together with the city council, I would like to actively shape the development of our city as a team, give it more momentum and give it a fresh face inside and out. Thanks to my previous work as a justice of the peace, I have great experience in developing sustainable solutions for the most diverse people in crisis situations. After 20 years of politics, I know our city thoroughly and I am well connected. I approach openly people and companies, I am resilient and humorous and ready to make unpleasant decisions. My excellent election result also speaks for my performance.

Micheal sites one of his achievements as taking decisive steps in the ‘urban museum concept’ Now I’m not sure exactly what this has achieved, other than perhaps saving money. All I can see is one website where the Kunstmuseum, Oskar Reinhart Museum and Villa Flora have been lumped together and the three museums are now referred together as the Kunst Museum Winterthur. As opposed to one of the museums which was already called the Kunstmuseum Winterthur and is now just called ‘Beim Stadthaus?’ The problem they have is that all over the internet, the Kunstmuseum Winterthur just means the one, more contemporary museum, not all three. All very confusing.

Anyway, Micheal’s goal is ‘a modern, innovative, self-confident city with a high quality of life’ which is just what Winterthur is and why I love it so much. But right now it needs momentum, as Yvonne says. I like her focus on the words ‘shaping the development of the city’ and ‘momentum’ because for me that is just what Winterthur needs – a modern, forward looking approach and a healthy dose of momentum. I think we’re ready for a change. I’m with Yvonne J

Full story here.

For information, politics in Switzerland works on proportional representation and a ‘magic formula’ How good is that? It means the four main parties are dealt with equally and fairly. So the composition of the Federal Council looks like this:
  • Free Democratic Party (FDPP/PLR/PLD): two seats
  • Social Democratic Party (SPS/PSS): two seats
  • Swiss People's Party (SVP/UDC/PPS): two seats
  • Christian Democratic People's Party (CVP/PDC/PPD/PCD): one seat
Neat huh? We sure could do with a magic formula in the UK…

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