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Lukas Golder, Co-director gfs.bern

Publications - Guest articles

Lukas Golder, Co-director gfs.bern

Stability elections in times of crisis as a commitment


Stability might best sum up the result on the evening of October 22, 2023: On the amplitude of the green wave and, after a legislature marked by crises, a sign from the electorate toward stability with a slight slide to the right. But the voting behavior shows that the economy and politics are facing major challenges.

About half of the electorate is expected to participate in the upcoming elections. This is far behind the average turnout of 57.4 percent for the four federal ballots in 2021. Government-critical circles ensured this record figure since 1971. Elections hardly mobilize these circles. Generally, a confirmation of the balance of power in the federal parliament is expected. Current polls show a slight slide to the right with a strengthening of the SVP and a lower mobilization of the Green Party with some advantages for the SP in the left wing. In parallel with possible seat shifts in the National Council to the SP and the SVP at the expense of the Green Party, the FDP must expect slight losses in the National Council. However, the FDP is a possible winner in the election for the Council of States. The traditionally strong Mitte Party in the Council of States could even gain more than one per mille in the National Council elections for the first time since 1979 thanks to a new name and the merger with the BDP. Anything other than a confirmation of the distribution of seats in the Federal Council would be a big surprise after such an election result. This would mean that on December 13, 2023, Parliament would have already set the motto for the next four years: Keep it up!

Change of perspective on economic policy

The stability election hides a growing change in the Swiss population's perception of economic policy. After decades of dominance by economic concerns and worries about job security, as in the CS Worry Barometer, the shortage of skilled workers has empowered employees and given way to concrete everyday concerns. With the home office, health insurance premium increase, medical and energy supply shortages, concerns about war, inflation and acceleration in the work environment with consequences for mental health, priorities have shifted due to the crisis. The economy does not come first and can no longer easily communicate its needs. So, after the 2019 climate election, the first priority for companies is to nurture internal sensitivities and provide confidence. But political impetus is also needed. Concordance systems with all-party governments may be somewhat boring in elections, but if no compromise solutions are found for central issues, including economic policy issues, boredom turns into stagnation. There are certainly signs of this. If, in times of polarization, even the right wing , the business associations and the social partners are not in agreement on central issues, finding concordant solutions will naturally be difficult for the Federal Council and Parliament.

Pharmaceuticals and life sciences: stability means uncertainty

The stability election is also more likely to cause uncertainty for the innovative sectors of the economy. There is a need for adjustment in important dossiers with the EU. The associations and the companies may react flexibly, but strategic uncertainties among companies with regard to energy supply, licensing regulations and the labor market have a strong impact on the attractiveness of the business location. Business associations and farmers have succeeded in putting together a joint election campaign. However, the joint response to questions of global responsibility and European networking is not apparent. In Switzerland, all doors are open to anyone who wants to ensure that economic concerns for the high-value-added sector continue to be heard in the future: Direct democracy ensures that all concerns are heard, and at the municipal level, responsible people are desperately sought to strengthen our militia culture. So, anyone who wants to change something can take action.


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