Women’s session calls for more equality
It was women only in the Federal Palace during the last weekend in October, when the second women’s session (the first was in 1991) was held to establish the political position of women in Switzerland. The main demands were greater equality and equal pay, the eradication of old-age poverty among women, the creation of a federal office for equality and family, and the establishment of a research programme for gender medicine. The women’s session produced a total of 23 petitions, which now go to the National Council and Council of States for approval.
Switzerland approves second cohesion contribution
At the end of September, the Swiss Parliament approved a second cohesion contribution, totalling 1.3 billion Swiss francs. The funds are to support development in new and economically disadvantaged EU member states. The contribution is in return for the benefits Switzerland gains by having access to these markets. Given the current tension between Berne and Brussels, parliament initially wanted to make the funds contingent on certain conditions, but ultimately decided against it.
Australia opens embassy in Switzerland
After a gap of 30 years, Australia is once again opening an embassy in Switzerland. This is somewhat unusual, as many countries have closed or merged embassies in recent years. Australia emphasises that the new embassy will strengthen the political, economic, strategic, cultural and scientific ties that bind the two countries together.
Criticism of the use of force in asylum centres
An investigation has concluded that security staff have used “disproportionate force” on a number of occasions in federal asylum centres. However, according to former Supreme Court judge Niklaus Oberholzer, who led the investigation, the documented instances of disproportionate and unlawful conduct do not constitute a systematic failure to respect the rights of asylum seekers in federal centres.
New minimum tax rate “feasible” for Switzerland
Switzerland is not happy about the large industrialised nations’ plan to apply a global minimum corporate tax rate of 15 percent. The reform would affect 18 Swiss cantons in particular, where corporate income tax is below 15 percent. Nevertheless, following some initial scepticism, Finance Minister Ueli Maurer does not envisage “any major problems”. The new tax regime is considered “feasible” for Switzerland, although some companies will inevitably have to pay more tax in future.
Snapshot from the 2021 women’s session: the National Council chamber was reserved for women only. Photo: Keystone