New Year Address 2003
1 January 2003
Fellow Citizens of Switzerland,
New Year’s day 2003! – A new year has begun, the old year is over!
The economic situation
2002 was a rough year, not only in Europe, but also in America and Japan. The global economy remained in low gear, obviously with repercussions for Switzerland, too.
Here in Switzerland, the past year was marked by various events. – Following a period of good economic development, outrageous practices were exposed in numerous companies, a number of top managers felt entitled to help themselves from the coffers of the companies they were entrusted with! Management deficiencies became apparent, jobs were lost.
The fact that the orders situation is so bad today can be attributed to the business practices applied in the good years. We have already experienced two years of recession, and no improvement is in sight for the coming year!
Fortunately, every cloud has a silver lining. Complaints from companies that based their activities on a solid foundation are few and far between even in these difficult times. They are not hard-pressed to secure their survival. These are rock-solid businesses that embrace Swiss principles, companies that march to the tune of quality and not size.
Product and service quality is decisive for success. And as soon as this realisation recaptures the hearts and minds of the captains of industry, the next economic upswing will be just around the corner. I am convinced that this is a vital prerequisite. – And I am convinced that things will move forward again in 2004. However, the economic blunders of the past will first have to be remedied.
The political situation
The political picture is not a pretty one. Megalomania has raised its ugly head in this field too. The state spent far more than the country can afford, both on a federal and on a cantonal level. Expenditure is growing by the year. It was assumed – wrongly – that the economy would continue to shine ever more brightly, and that revenues would continue to grow correspondingly!
And now the time has come to foot the bill: the people of Switzerland are being asked to pay ever-rising fees, charges and taxes. And are left with an ever-decreasing amount of money to actually live on.
The people who wanted to apply the brakes, who told the government it was time to start saving for rainy days, were ridiculed. – Now these mistakes have come home to roost.
Grand foreign structures and designs were embraced as ideals to be emulated. Switzerland, it was said, is too small, and should therefore join major international organisations such as the European Union.
Now, of course, more rational views are gaining the upper hand. People see that things cannot go on as before. Corrections are required on the political level, too. And this is by no means impossible: over the past years, the Swiss People’s Party presented a number of possible solutions to urgent problems:
– What must be done so the people can pay their health insurance premiums again?
– What must be done so the children learn to read and write properly again?
– What must be done so we can pay our taxes and still be left with enough money to live on?
– What must be done to ensure our freedom and independence?
– What must be done to stop our asylum system from being abused?
All the proposals were ignored. However, many people have now come to the conclusion that reassessment is urgently required. Swiss values are regaining the upper hand:
– High quality as a recipe for success!
Yet the federal government in Berne remains oblivious to this reorientation process. The media and the other political parties continue to heap scorn on the People’s Party and its attempts to bring about change. But optimism is nevertheless warranted, because this shift has begun at the grass-roots level.
This year, the voters of Switzerland will elect a new parliament. This year, it is important that the Swiss People’s Party wins the elections. This is the only way change can be initiated, the only way to get our country back into running order again: so we can once again pay our health insurance premiums, so we can reduce the tax burden, so we can enjoy better safety and security, so we can stop asylum abuse – and so we can rebuild our national confidence!
It is up to you, the Swiss voters, to decide Switzerland’s future course in the election year 2003.
The fact that a reorientation process is taking place in our society should also be reflected in the Swiss media; they must sit up and take notice of what the people of Switzerland really want.
All in all, I enter the new year with optimism. I am convinced that
– this year the economic foundation for good years to come will be laid;
– incompetent executives will be banished from the top echelons of corporate management;
– Swiss quality and sound business practices will make a comeback;
– in politics in general as in the elections in particular, the party that has the remedies for aforementioned problems will win;
– the media will have to bow to the pressure of its readers and start to rethink their positions.
I wish you, my fellow citizens of Switzerland, a good 2003!
I am confident that the ills we have been experiencing will respond to the right corrective measures – with your help! The prerequisites for betterment are at hand.
A Happy New Year and Best Wishes to all of you!
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Christoph Blocher, MP (National Council), Swiss People’s Party