Gerhard Pfister is on all channels (59). The center president has repeatedly caused a stir with unexpected positions in recent weeks. On Twitter he accused the Federal Council of failing to provide aid because of the refusal to export arms, and on SRF radio he spoke out in principle in favor of stopping Russian commodity trade via Switzerland. And now the Zug National Council surprises in an interview with “NZZ am Sonntag” with statements that could also come from the mouth of a Juso President.
“Aren’t we taxing work too heavily and capital too little?” Pfister asks. He and his party wanted to make a policy that takes responsibility – “for the socially disadvantaged or for democracy”. The center president is calling for Switzerland to only conclude free trade agreements with democratic countries. Today he looks at the agreement with China, which he approved in 2013, “much more critically”.
Legal course is in the past
For a commoner, these statements are more than remarkable. And especially for Pfister, the conservative Central Swiss, who, when he was elected party president, was still politicizing on the extreme right in the political center (then still CVP) – and at the beginning also steered the party in this direction. He was trying to “position the party a little closer to the economy again,” said Pfister at the time.
But that’s in the past. Under Pfister, the party 2020 not only said goodbye to the “Christian” in the name. Last year, under the impression of the corona pandemic, he also pondered aloud about a new form of capitalism that his party wanted to commit to. A few weeks later, the center spoke up because Council of States Beat Rieder (59) called for a stock exchange tax – actually a left-wing recipe – to plug the billion-euro gap in the AHV.
“Pfister is a disappointment for rights”
The Ukraine war has apparently given Pfister’s center party a further leftward twist. He himself says that it is not a left-wing position that he represents, “but a social market economy”. He doesn’t want to say more at the moment. First he had to “take a conceptual step further,” says Pfister.
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One person who is pleased with Pfister’s attitude is Stefan Müller-Altermatt (45). The Center National Council is the president of the Christian Social Party, a wing of the former CVP that explicitly wants to appeal to centre-left voters. “Pfister, the politician with values, is certainly a disappointment for the right,” says the Solothurn – but that has always been the case. The social conscience of the center and its president is now, in difficult times, simply more evident. “It’s less necessary in a feel-good atmosphere,” says Müller-Altermatt.
Opponents accuse him of campaign tactics
Meanwhile, his political opponents accuse Pfister of primarily wanting to generate attention with his demands and surprising statements. With decidedly left-wing positions, he tries to differentiate himself from the other bourgeois parties. Tactics in view of the elections coming up in a year and a half.
Müller-Altermatt doesn’t think it’s wrong if the center shows its social side. After all, the social market economy is an achievement of Christian democracy, he emphasizes. “Now we have to go back to it and emphasize our values.”
Pfister himself said after taking office at the top of the middle: “I will do everything that brings success to the CVP.” This included a new name for the party. And now he is probably setting new accents.
Pfister on foreign policy: “Ukrainians defend our values”(05:53)