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“The international councillor” was the slogan Tim Guldimann used to promote his National Council campaign in 2015. The 68-year-old Social Democrat, who lives in Berlin, was elected to the Swiss parliament on the list of the SP in Zurich. As the first genuine foreign-resident member of parliament, this was a real coup. A total of 56 Swiss Abroad tried and failed to get elected that year. The chances of being elected are slim because most candidates are almost unknown. This was not the case for Tim Guldimann, who is an eminent Swiss diplomat.
However, Guldimann stepped down at the end of the spring session in the middle of his first term in office. Since he was living abroad, he had been unable to spend enough time in his constituency, he said. It wasn’t easy living in one place and being a politician in another because you needed personal contact to gauge the mood of the people you were representing politically. After all, “The metro in Berlin is not the same thing as the tram in Zurich”. Guldimann also pointed to family reasons: his wife is extremely busy professionally because she is the deputy head of Spiegel magazine’s Berlin office. His two school-age daughters therefore need their father to be there and relocation to Switzerland would be out of the question.
In parliament, Tim Guldimann was mainly involved in European policy. He has an outstanding network of contacts and was Switzerland’s ambassador to Germany until his retirement in 2015. He previously made a name for himself as the Swiss ambassador in Tehran and in the 1990s as a crisis diplomat in Chechnya, where he negotiated the ceasefire as head of the OSCE mission. His political career has now come to a somewhat less illustrious end than his diplomatic one.