Absence king Roger Köppel (57) fights back
“I’m not a truant!”
No other National Councilor is missing as many votes as SVP National Councilor Roger Köppel. He sees no problem with that himself. Political scientist Claude Longchamp assesses the many absences of some parliamentarians differently.
Roger Köppel justifies his many absences with his job as boss of “Weltwoche”.
Leah HartmannEditor Politics
Roger Köppel (57) has missed every fifth vote in the National Council in the last three years. The SVP politician was absent without excuse on 13 percent of the session days, according to a Blick analysis. With this shortfall, the “Weltwoche” publisher and editor-in-chief once again took the inglorious first place on the list of the kings of absences in the National Council.
If he didn’t respond to Blick inquiries at first, he now comments on his frequent absences after the fact. “I’m not a truant, but a highly committed entrepreneur of a successful company,” says Köppel. And adds that he is “the opposite of those professional politicians who live from the state, gild their mandates and are celebrated by the eye”. If he’s absent for professional reasons, he duly logs out “and thus saves the taxpayer attendance fees”.
“High absenteeism rates are a nuisance”
Köppel’s words reflect what political scientist Claude Longchamp (65) describes as a “certain nonchalance” of some politicians towards the obligations of their office. “The high absence rates are a nuisance,” he says.
Admittedly, the situation has improved in recent years. The reason for this, Longchamp believes, is the public pressure on parliamentarians since the media started publishing such rankings. Only since 2007 have all voting results of the National Council been published and voting behavior can be analyzed in detail.
But the fact that some politicians miss almost 20 percent of the votes is problematic from Longchamp’s point of view. Especially since it is the middle and the GLP in whose ranks the absence rate is particularly high on average. “Especially those factions that are most decisive because they are the majority procurers,” he says.
Bourgeois are absent more often than leftists
The Blick evaluation also shows that, on average, women are significantly less absent from the National Council than their male colleagues. And left-wing national councilors miss far fewer votes than conservatives. The latter can probably be explained by the fact that left-wing politicians are actually professional politicians more often than their middle-class colleagues.
No wonder. National Council Office, other political commitments, plus a job: Longchamp speaks of a “structural overload” of the parliamentarians. However, there are also national councilors who, like Köppel, would describe themselves as committed and successful entrepreneurs, but are nevertheless very conscientious parliamentarians. For example, the Thurgau SVP National Councilor Diana Gutjahr (38) was among the council members who were least absent. With her husband, she runs a steel and metal construction company with 80 employees – and was only missing five of 3925 votes. And never unapologetically.