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Guest commentary Handelszeitung: Director General Stephan Mumenthaler

Dossiers - Competitiveness

Guest commentary Handelszeitung: Director General Stephan Mumenthaler

Five requests of politics


Looking ahead to the parliamentary elections, it is necessary to make five requests to parliamentarians.

Of course, parliament is elected by all voters, and the business community per se has no voting rights. But the economy is all of us. And much of what parliament decides in a legislative period also affects the economy: it has to support and implement the political decisions. Therefore, it is also in the interest of society that politics is never made without the economy in mind.

1. More courage, realism and pragmatism
It is also clearly recognisable that there is a tendency in politics to duck sensitive problems. The political bad habit of solving problems that are not problems and ignoring the real problems must be decisively countered. 

Whether in European policy or in securing energy supplies and social services, viable compromises are urgently needed. Switzerland has long distinguished itself through pragmatism. We need to cultivate this quality again. Cooperation across party lines is needed again instead of ideological trench warfare. The request for the future parliament: more courage, realism and pragmatism.

2. Don't forget the costs
It is not enough to print a new law on paper. Someone has to implement it, and that is often the business community. This incurs costs, and the more complex and detailed a regulation, the greater the cost. The costs may not be visible, but we all bear them in the end. Therefore, with every decree, it must be well considered what is really necessary and proportionate. The request here is: Don't forget the costs!

3. Less is often more
Unfortunately, as in medicine, effects hardly ever come without side effects. The pursuit of one goal can harm other goals. Thus, increasing regulation also causes large non-monetary costs. For this reason, interventions - if they are necessary at all - must be as selective, targeted and simple as possible. The call to future parliamentarians: Do less instead of more!

4. Strengthen the militia system
The Swiss parliament has always functioned in a militia system, and this has been one of its great strengths. Ideally, the militia system ensures that knowledge and experience from business and civil life can flow into politics. However, this only works if one actually has such experience and/or specific knowledge before seeking political office. To put it simply: If you know nothing and can't do anything, you don't belong in parliament, but should acquire the necessary skills elsewhere.

If one looks at today's parliament, one increasingly sees careers that lead directly from academia into politics and pursue possible gainful employment with the state or in NGOs. One is tempted to speak of hors-sol politics. Politics must know the reality it is trying to regulate. Therefore, it is more than desirable that the professional activities of parliamentarians have a connection to the economy. The demand here is: Strengthen the militia system.

5. Believe in the future
Politics means shaping the future, not transfiguring and preserving the past. Politics should increasingly enable rather than prevent. Far too many decrees prohibit, restrict and make things more expensive. The prevention or restriction of new technologies, from 5G to new genomic methods, should be mentioned here.

In doing so, we plague and inhibit our companies and limit the opportunities for our population. Good policy looks at the risks and seizes the opportunities. It may read a bit hackneyed, but it's true: Only a policy that believes in the future can shape it - for the competitiveness of our economy and the well-being of our society. Therefore: Believe in the future!


Dr. Stephan Mumenthaler, Director General scienceindustries, Chemistry Pharma Life Sciences Trade Association


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