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Parliament of the “Fifth Switzerland” unable to sit due to the coronavirus

25.05.2020 – Marc Lettau

The Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA), referred to as the Parliament of the “Fifth Switzerland”, was scheduled to sit at Berne’s city hall on 14 March 2020. Unfortunately, the meeting, which had been planned in detail, had to be cancelled at short notice owing to the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) outbreak. After Switzerland saw its first confirmed cases of the virus in February, the Federal Council banned all major events with more than 1,000 people.

Several cantons (including the canton of Berne, where the CSA was due to sit) then introduced tougher restrictions, only authorising events with fewer than 1,000 participants subject to certain conditions being met. The Executive Board and management of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) therefore saw no other option but to cancel the CSA. In their joint message to CSA delegates at the end of February, the OSA President and Director also cited their “institutional responsibility towards delegates and the public” as a reason for taking this decision.

Another decision was taken allowing CSA delegates to vote on some of the forthcoming agenda items by email. The results of this voting procedure were still outstanding at the time of going to press.