On a summer evening in 1985 Edgar Oehler drove his car to Eastern Switzerland. The radio was in operation, as was the then CVP National Council, as another National Council, Markus Ruf of the National Action, confidently stated that he knew how to solve the asylum problem in Switzerland. You only need a few handcuffs and revolvers, Ruf said on the radio. When he came home, Oehler sat down at the typewriter and wrote a text that he sent to his newspaper Die Ostschweiz that same evening to print immediately. Oehler described Markus Ruf as a "cowardly barker" and "70 kilos of stupidity".
It was a power surge for the otherwise down-to-earth political Switzerland. Jurist Ruf immediately filed a complaint for defamation. But she was unsuccessful. It is true that Parliament expressed its firm expectation that this type of confrontation would not find its way into the political culture of Switzerland. However, the immunity of Oehler did not stop it. Primarily because it would have contradicted the practice of Parliament. The practice was that the immunity of a politician is never lifted.
Thirty years later a small sensation begins to emerge. For the first time, the national legal committee has decided to allow the federal prosecutor's office to call in a parliamentarian. SVP politician Christian Miesch in 2015, when he was a member of the National Council, demanded and received 4635 francs from lobbyist Thomas Borer. To this day it is unclear what. The presumption of innocence applies to all participants.
Does this premiere mean that a more differentiated application of immunity is used in politics? Unfortunately, this is not to be expected. The case of Miesch is unique, because the federal prosecutor's office suspected serious crimes, such as the acceptance of benefits and even passive bribery. However, if, as in most cases, there are only minor offenses, such as a violation of the official secret or a defamation of honor, Parliament will always refrain from lifting. The reason: was not that bad. This benefited in 1985, the energetic CVP man Edgar Oehler.
Everyone should be equal before the law
Only in these ordinary cases does the question arise whether immunity is still justified. It was introduced in 1851 to protect the young government institutions against arbitrary criminal proceedings. This danger is forbidden today. The second function of immunity is to guarantee free will and expression in the political process. It remains of great importance, but the so-called absolute immunity, which protects members of parliament against prosecution for statements in the Council Chamber, is sufficient.
The relative immunity on the other hand, from which politicians also benefit far from the Bundeshaus, can no longer be justified. It violates the fundamental principle that everyone is equal before the law. Why does Nationalrat impute to Oehler people with impunity when ordinary citizens are called to account?
Oehler himself was later repentant, by the way. In 2004 he advised in an interview with the "Bilanz": "If you write a comment, you should not publish it immediately, but you better leave it in one evening."
Date: 26.08.2018, 18:41 clock