Switzerland tosses state political order overboard

Schwitzerland Parlament Regierung Bundesrat Notverordnung Verfassung Energiekrise
Swiss politicians are allowing the environment to be littered at a rapid pace. (Image: Benita Welter / pixabay)

Securing the power supply in Switzerland produces unbelievable decisions. The country of snail’s pace suddenly throws all principles overboard.

The possibility of slipping into a power shortage situation this winter is simply taken as an excuse to make rash decisions of enormous consequence. With such harsh words, Zurich law professor Alain Griffel criticized current political developments in Switzerland.

“The ordinances on the emergency power plant in Birr would actually have required a determination of an acute electricity shortage,” he stressed in an interview with “WOZ.”

Cloak of energy crisis

While government and parliamentary decisions on the coronavirus pandemic were, in his opinion, ‘quite necessary for urgent action because of the extraordinary emergency,’ the situation is now completely different in the case of the electricity shortage.

“I have great doubts that even one of the projects that are now to be beaten through by law will be connected to the grid in five years,” said the scientist from the University of Zurich, explaining his reservations about energy projects that have been decided upon.

For the coming winter the hype about the energy crisis is of little help.

Nowadays it is not possible to build a highway through a moorland with just a simple decision, as was the case 70 years ago, he warned.

Complete confusion

It also contradicts numerous laws, for example, to raise the Grimsel dam in an express procedure. Without basing this on spatial planning, all this leads to completely unclear processes and chaotic responsibilities, explained the Zurich constitutional law expert.

With such an approach one forces environmental protection organizations to sue all the way to the federal court in order to have clarity on matters, he stressed. “This will certainly not lead to an acceleration but rather to a slowing down of construction projects,” the law professor indicated.

Trap for environmentalists

But this may be part of the calculation, Griffel said, to back environmental organizations into a corner in this way and accuse them of coercion.

With the war in Ukraine and the supply crisis there has been great pressure for action in politics, he said. “And certain circles are shamelessly exploiting this to dismantle environmental protection,” the professor warned.

This is not only about environmental policy, and this has become an eminently state-political story, the legal expert explained of the new situation.

Dangerous precedent

No consultation, no inclusion of the cantons or political organizations, no support by a Federal Council message, everything somehow urgent – this is the main problem. Thus, in the future, the parliament could refer to this precedent in other contexts, criticized the constitutional law expert. 

“In a constitutional state a constitution serves precisely to limit the power of state organs. Also – the power of parliament,” the professor continued.

Shameless exploitation

Because Switzerland has only very limited constitutional jurisdiction anyway, he said, the country has no control over all of these goings-on.

“And lately the parliament has been shamelessly exploiting that,” he stressed to the left-wing “WOZ.”


Switzerland tosses state political order overboard

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