Crash course for new parliamentarians

February 15, 2024

Rüegsegger and Schläfli are at an event organised by the Swiss School of Public Governance at ETH Zurich – and they are accompanied by numerous other parliamentarians who were elected to the Swiss National Council in October 2023. “Based on the positive feedback we had received from parliamentary groups, it was already clear to us last spring that the newly elected parliamentarians would be keen to attend an introductory seminar. Representatives of almost every parliamentary groupThe list of participants reflects last October’s election results: over three-quarters of attendees were parliamentarians from the Centre, the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) and the Social Democratic Party (SP). As a new member of the Security Policy Committee, she was particularly interested in a lecture by Andreas Wenger on the challenges of Swiss security policy. Wenger is Director of the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zurich and a leading expert in this field.

Social democrat and historian Nina Schläfli and SVP politician and farmer Hans Jörg Rüegsegger have very different political views. But on this particular February morning, both members of the National Council are here for one and the same reason: they want to learn from scientists’ expertise.

The mood is relaxed in the seminar room at Schloss Hünigen in the municipality of Konolfingen near Bern, with good-humoured attendees making lively conversation and cracking the odd joke. Rüegsegger and Schläfli are at an event organised by the Swiss School of Public Governance at ETH Zurich – and they are accompanied by numerous other parliamentarians who were elected to the Swiss National Council in October 2023. Over the next couple of days, they will attend presentations by leading scientists on topics and issues that are relevant to their parliamentary work.

This is the third time this event has been held, following its success in 2015 and 2020. “Based on the positive feedback we had received from parliamentary groups, it was already clear to us last spring that the newly elected parliamentarians would be keen to attend an introductory seminar. There’s a real enthusiasm for refreshing their knowledge on key policy areas and connecting with others beyond their party affiliation,” says ETH Professor Robert Perich. As the Academic Director of the Swiss School of Public Governance, he was in charge of inviting renowned experts who teach and conduct research at six Swiss universities. They were asked to impart relevant expertise and equip attendees with the tools they need to fulfil their parliamentary responsibilities.

Representatives of almost every parliamentary group

The list of participants reflects last October’s election results: over three-quarters of attendees were parliamentarians from the Centre, the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) and the Social Democratic Party (SP). One of those who attended was Isabelle Chappuis, a recently elected representative of Switzerland’s Centre party who hails from the canton of Vaud. As a new member of the Security Policy Committee, she was particularly interested in a lecture by Andreas Wenger on the challenges of Swiss security policy.

Wenger is Director of the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zurich and a leading expert in this field. In his presentation, he explained how the security-policy landscape has changed since Russia’s attack on Ukraine, and what consequences this might have for Switzerland. For Chappuis, this was an opportunity to get more informed about ongoing debates: “It’s a great chance to gain a clearer understanding of key topics, such as organisational changes in the Federal Department of Defence and the budget for the Armed Forces,” she says.

The source of this news is from ETH Zurich

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