There are elections in a year and it seems that the SVP is in crisis. There are personnel problems: in Western Switzerland, three cantonal presidents have resigned. Added to this was the departure of Kevin Grangier, Campaign Coordinator of the Romandie.
And in the General Secretariat of SVP Switzerland the main post has become orphaned months after the departure of Gabriel Lüchinger. Newcomer Dominique Steiner filed his resignation after a week.
The SVP also has mobilization issues. She had become lethargic and criticized SVP federal council member Ueli Maurer (see interview). And since 2015 she lost the election in 12 of the 18 cantons and lost a total of 10 seats, the NZZ calculated.
SVP-Nationalrat had given Ulrich Giezendanner an internal alarm before the summer break. During a faction meeting on the Gurts, he warned that the party would lose seven seats in parliament in 2019 if they continued to do so. Giezendanner confirms his intervention.
A lot has happened since then, such as a look behind the scenes. President Albert Rösti is currently rattling all 26 cantons via the VW bus. He meets 20 entrepreneurs and wants to know where she pushes the shoe. Rösti has already visited five cantons. And campaign leader Adrian Amstutz receives one SVP exponent after the other in the Bern restaurant "Della Casa".
The purpose of the meetings: the SVP wants to get closer to the concerns and needs of the people with their subjects. That was lost, says Giezendanner, who also could eat for free, he says. He emphasizes: "Rösti and Amstutz reinvent the SVP."
The DNA of the party – Europe, self-determination, migration, allowances and SMEs – is maintained. But within these core issues, the duo reviews the party. Wage protection, unemployment, the unemployed over the age of 50 and high health insurance premiums are 2019 main subjects. The SVP does not argue for state intervention.
The spearhead for this is the restriction initiative. The SVP submitted it Friday with 118.772 signatures. If adopted, the Federal Council has a year to "suspend" the free movement of persons during negotiations. If he fails, he must report this.
How high the SVP recently weighed the subject of wages was also evident in the media conference. SVP president Albert Rösti said that "wages are stagnating or declining". And the national council member Sandra Sollberger stated that a study by the federal government shows that the wages of graduates have come under pressure in recent years.
«Not left to left»
"The problem of wage protection is no longer left," says Giezendanner. "It will become a core problem for SVP." Responsible entrepreneurs such as National Council member Franz Grüter and he himself must stand up for wage protection. "Swiss wages are decreasing, especially in the border regions", says President Rösti. "Many older employees are afraid of work and wages."
What the SVP specifically wants to do for wage protection is not clear. Giezendanner speaks of the fact that "a competition clause is conceivable", but does not want to give details. Rösti notes that SVP wants to protect wages by controlling immigration and thus gaining jobs in Switzerland. "That requires the elimination of the free movement of people."
The SVP fights "against the misguided redistribution policy from the left," he says. "And against an economic policy that focuses on boni managers and international companies". Rösti: "I appeal to those who oppose the self-determination of Switzerland and a framework agreement."
In addition to protection against wages, the SVP also wants to tackle the unemployment of people older than 50 en masse, as Rösti says. "Unemployment is above average in the construction and hospitality sector."
The SVP of the Canton of Zurich has set up a working group. National council member Natalie Rickli discussed the situation of the Ü50 in the "NZZ am Sonntag" when she announced her candidacy for the Zurich government council. "Then managers from different companies came forward," she says. "They have confirmed how important the subject is, and several already have similar programs."
But the unemployment rate according to the International Labor Organization is also a problem. "It shows that Switzerland has 4.9 percent higher unemployment than Germany," says Group leader Thomas Aeschi. "Only with us the unemployed do not go straight into the streets, because we have a very well developed welfare state."
The biggest workers party
With wage protection and over 50, the SVP wants to understand the content of what has been done since 1995: the SP is no longer the workers' party, but the SVP. This is shown by the study of the political scientist Line Rennwald and the historian Adrian Zimmermann "Election decision of the workers in Switzerland from 1971 to 2011" of 2016.
In 1975 38 percent of employees opted for SP, after which their share in 2011 fell to 19 percent. Since 1995, employees have been increasingly using SVP. Their share rose to the highest level of 40 percent in 2011.
In the next few days, the party management wants to inform the cantons and regional presidents about the new weighting in the core issues. And in the third week of the autumn session there is another group meeting scheduled at the Gurten.
Then it should not come to such critical voices as before the summer. Albert Rösti certainly does not want to talk about a crisis. "That is," says the president, "a wishful thinking of our political opponents." In SVP, 13 months before the elections, there is one thing in particular: unity.