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Worries over global warming boost hopes of Green Party

Thu, 10/04/2018 - 17:00
Parties to the left of the centre could win some ground in in the 2019 parliamentary elections at the expense of the right, pollsters say. The main public concerns are social security and environmental issues. Except for expatriate Swiss citizens: their focus are relations with the European Union. Of the eight main political parties in the Swiss parliament, the Swiss People’s Party would still come out top with 27.4% if elections to the House of Representatives were held now – more than 12 months ahead of the scheduled date. But the rightwing party would lose about 2% of the vote compared with the 2015 elections. The other main loser would be the centrist Christian Democrats, which look set to continue their decline, according to Michael Hermann of the Sotomo research institute. It carried out the survey on behalf of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), swissinfo.ch’s parent company. The two main winners would be the leftwing Green Party and the centre-right Radical-Liberal ...
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How does Switzerland respond to a disaster abroad?

Thu, 10/04/2018 - 17:00
Following the earthquake in Indonesia on Friday, September 28, a tsunami has left more than 1,000 people dead, several hundred injured and caused enormous damage. The Indonesian government has called for urgent international aid, and Switzerland has responded with its own offer of assistance. On Monday, October 1, Switzerland said it would send a team of seven emergency aid experts to help. The group includes doctors, alongside water, construction and logistics experts. The Swiss Humanitarian Aid (SHA) unit responds to such disasters abroad often by sending highly-trained professionals into the crisis area at short notice to help with specific emergency needs.  In 2012, the members of the SHA completed more than 500 assignments abroad and spent more than 50,000 days working for the unit. Although who is called in to help varies depending on the situation, that amount tallies up to the equivalent of 135 full-time positions. Between 2010 and 2012, the Rapid Border Intervention ...
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Feminists aren't career-hungry monsters

Thu, 10/04/2018 - 17:00
"True Talk" puts people in front of the camera who are fighting prejudice or discrimination. They answer questions that nobody would normally dare to ask directly.  Anne-Sophie Keller is 27 years old and an ardent feminist. She says, because she has often been at a disadvantage in her life due to her gender. In "True Talk", she explains why feminism is far from being an outdated practice, and which prejudices she faces on a daily basis. "I didn't have this one traumatic key moment," Anne-Sophie says. "It was rather small things that made me a feminist. That includes breast grabbing in nightclubs, unwanted office nicknames or arrogant bosses who want to explain the world to you, and - let's be honest - what woman doesn't recognise situations like that?" Anne-Sophie thinks there is still a lot to be done. "Above all, men - also in Switzerland - must finally realise that we women are still de facto second-class citizens." But she also sees that women have a duty: "We often have too ...
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Foundations for league of ‘Democracy Cities’ laid in Rome

Thu, 10/04/2018 - 12:11
What are the greatest engines of democratization? Cities. At the seventh Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy in Rome, some 800 participants from almost 100 countries launched an offensive: they drafted a Magna Charta for a global alliance of cities to allow citizens to also participate in government. "Cities are the most innovative democratic actors because it is there that citizens can exert the greatest influence on governments," said Joe Mathews, co-President of the Forum.  The Magna Charta for an International League of Democracy Cities is "a step back into the future," Mathews said. "This is because democracy is strengthened at the local level, as it was in the city of Athens 2,500 years ago. What does it say? The Charta should include best practices for effective local, direct and participatory democracy of citizens. Which cities are the drivers? Rome (Italy), Seoul (South Korea) and Taichung (Taiwan) were in charge of the first draft, making them in a sense ideal ...
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Forbidden love at the Zurich Film Festival

Thu, 10/04/2018 - 11:30
When "Wolkenbruch" premiered at this year's Zurich Film Festival, it provided a window onto a world some people never knew existed: that of Orthodox Jews living in the heart of Switzerland's most bustling city.  The movie centres around Motti Wolkenbruch, a young Jewish man living in Zurich who breaks the rules, but he's not the only star of this story: significantly contributing to the laughs and plot line are the other members of his community who walk the streets of the Wiedikon district in Zurich in their kippahs and payot (curly sideburns). According to the Federal Statistical Office, there are more than 4,000 Jewish people in the city of Zurich and more than 6,000 in the canton. The coming of age comedy is based on the Swiss bestseller, “Wolkenbruch's wondrous journey into the arms of a Schickse”, written in German and Yiddish by Jewish author Thomas Meyer, who also penned the screenplay. He's not religious but says he rediscovered his Jewish roots while researching his ...
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Down-to-earth Swiss president raises eyebrows

Thu, 10/04/2018 - 11:19
Images of the Swiss president sitting on the ground in New York City have sparked a conversation on social media. But for the Swiss, it’s just business as usual.  During last week’s General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, Swiss President Alain Berset decided to cool his well-maintained heels and take a curbside seat. The sight of an important man sitting on the ground grabbed the attention of the social media world – especially in Africa.  One blogger used the example to criticize the Ugandan president: As the image made the rounds, users kept adding to the story, saying that during the UN assembly, Berset was cooking his own meals in a small apartment shared with his staff. A spokesman later set the record straight, telling Swiss news portal watson.ch that Berset had stayed in a hotel, as usual. When not out and about inspiring memes, Berset – who holds the rotating presidency of the seven-member Swiss cabinet – serves as the home affairs minister. And he’s not ...
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Meet Switzerland’s top trade negotiator

Thu, 10/04/2018 - 11:00
What’s it like to be a top trade negotiator in the age of Donald Trump and Brexit? Does it help to be a discreet, Swiss, career diplomat? We went to meet Henri Gétaz, Switzerland’s “Mr. Europe” who became Secretary General of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) on September 1 this year.  Gétaz, 54, rises from his desk to greet us as we enter his large, flower-filled office in Geneva. He is besuited and polite, weighing his words carefully like the diplomat that he is. But he has a warm smile, and apparently a wry sense of humour. Asked, for example, how he would describe what he does, he recalls that “a former Swiss secretary of state called himself a diplocrat. That’s probably what we are – technocrats of diplomacy!”    This is the man who, at the Swiss embassy in Washington, helped negotiate a deal between UBS bank and the US tax authorities, then went on to be director of European Affairs at the Swiss foreign ministry. He stayed in that post for eight years, notably ...
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