The debate about lobbying is getting tougher


A potentially drastic intervention against lobbying in federal Berbers becomes a majority. For example, if a parliamentarian sits on the Energy Commission, he should no longer be a member of the board of directors of an electricity company.

Parliamentarians should exercise more caution when choosing their secondary offices so that they don't have to do the balancing act like this reporter in the lobby.

Parliamentarians should exercise more caution when choosing their secondary offices so that they don’t have to do the balancing act like this reporter in the lobby.

Dominic Steinmann

A bad word goes around: “Parliamentarian shopping”. The unflattering term suggests that certain parliamentarians can be bought in Bern. It was officially put into circulation on Friday in a media release from the National Council’s State Policy Commission. She wants to end the alleged shopping tour and supports a move by the CVP Council of States Beat Rieder, who now has a good chance of a majority. He demands a “ban on the acceptance of paid mandates in connection with sitting in parliamentary commissions”.

Specifically: National and state councils, which are members of the health commission, for example, should no longer become board members of a hospital or a health insurance company. If they nevertheless accept such a mandate, they would have to leave the commission. However, only new mandates would be covered. In other words, a parliamentarian who has had a lucrative mandate with an electricity company long before being elected to the energy commission may keep it. Rieder wants to prevent companies or associations from “shopping” for parliamentarians just because they sit on the commission that is important to them. The new regulation is intended to cover all secondary offices that are compensated with at least CHF 5,000 a year.

The current example: Damian Muller, FDP

A wording in the media release on Friday makes one sit up and take notice: “Especially since the change of legislature” it has been shown that organizations and companies specifically recruit members from the commissions who are important for their interests. What specific cases are we talking about? The question goes to SVP National Councilor Andreas Glarner, the President of the State Policy Commission. He gives just one example: Damian Muller, FDP Council of States from Lucerne.

Muller was able to sit on the health commission in early 2019. He subsequently took on several paid mandates in the same area: he is a member of the Groupe de reflexion of the Groupe Mutuel health insurance company, sits on the Sounding Board of the FMH medical association and is a member of the advisory board of the Comparis comparison service. Such cases should be prevented in the future, says Glarner, who supported the initiative himself. However, it should be added that Muller’s mandates are not particularly lucrative positions. In addition, he does not go to one side, but is paid at the same time by the two major opponents of health policy: the insurers and the doctors.

Credibility against militia principle

Another, older example also concerns health policy, in which the density of mandate holders in the Bundeshaus is relatively high anyway. After Ignazio Cassis was elected to the Federal Council in 2017, the health insurance association Curafutura had to look for a new president. He found what he was looking for in the Health Commission: FDP Council of States Josef Dittli took over the office, which is relatively generous. With the ban that his CVP colleague Rieder has in mind, Dittli should not have taken over the presidium.

But it is not yet evening every day. Next, the State Political Commission of the Council of States will prepare a template for the implementation of Rieder’s plan. The scope depends on the specific design. The bill must again find a majority in both chambers. A fierce debate is expected. For Rieder, the credibility of politics is at stake – the militia principle from the perspective of his opponents.

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