The August 1 Swiss national holiday is almost here. It’s a day awaited with bated breath by your loyal Happy Valley Correspondent.
Well, first of all there are fireworks. Many fireworks. Fireworks which even in the tiniest of bleds often rival those of an Olympic closing ceremony. And Happy Valley is no exception.
Second, there’s the chance to have a fabulous brunch on the 1st, hosted by a local farmer. See www.brunch.ch if you’re not in the loop.
And most importantly for your Correspondent, it’s a chance to read the latest wisdom from the UDC (SVP in German) — as just ahead of the holiday, the party publishes newspaper ads across the country outlining what they, and August 1st, represent.
Initially I worried that 2015 might be a no-show for the UDC’s August 1 message. After all, were they not too busy dealing with the challenges faced by their Vaud chapter and its “oops-I-recorded-a-committee-meeting-without-anyone-present-knowing-and-then-yikes-it-was-leaked-to-a-rival-party-by-my-former-companion” President, Ms. Despot?
(No, “Despot” is not made up.)
And so to soften any potential disappointment, I consoled myself by reading an interview with Adrian Amstutz, the party’s Vice-President, recently published in Le Temps. (The translations which follow are your Correspondent’s). In a lengthy Q&A, Mr. Amstutz shared his thoughts on key national issues. These included pointing out the significant problem of Eritrean refugees possessing mobile phones in Switzerland. (To be more precise, the issue he cites is that they possess mobiles while on social assistance.) These also included questioning the seriousness of refugees’ claims: as an example, Mr. Amstutz seems to suggest that the treatment levelled on Eritreans found trying to desert their army — which is a factor some refugees cite as a reason for fleeing, according to Le Temps — is in fact no different than what would happen to someone who deserted the Schweizer Armee.
While not quite at the level that I would expect from an August 1 UDC advertisement, I was nonetheless prepared to accept the interview as a pretty good surrogate.
But never lose faith in the UDC. For the next day — to my relief and delight — the party came through in the local Happy Valley paper with a half page, text-rich ad signed by Toni Brunner, the UDC President.
“Dear Swiss Women and Swiss Men”, it begins, crowned with a smiling picture of Mr. Brunner. “Our country is doing well”, Mr. Brunner reports, “…and unlike others, the Swiss people have the final say.” But it seems that this happy status quo is under threat — with immigration a potential issue. Citing government estimates that Switzerland might have more than 10 million inhabitants by 2030, Mr. Brunner calls out the worries this forecast causes, particularly Switzerland’s ability to “guarantee the perennity of virtues and values which have made the country strong”.
But interestingly, Mr. Brunner then goes on to speak of “freedom, auto-determination and independence” as being those key values, applicable for each individual, as well as for the nation as a whole — and that we should “live them in our daily life and pass them on to future generations.”
And that’s when it dawned on me.
Ms. Despot’s issues are just a diversion.
What’s really going on is a revolution within the UDC.
You heard it here first.
The UDC President, as we speak, is cunningly setting the stage to transform the UDC into the first pro-refugee populist party in Europe. For who could be better adherents to living — and appreciating — those key values espoused by Mr. Brunner than those who have risked their lives to flee misery, dictatorship and persecution…like, for example, the Eritreans?
And to all the Happy Valley followers — best wishes for a wonderful national holiday from your loyal Correspondent.
By the Happy Valley Correspondent