In Britain, the Daily Mail reported in 2012 that “one in seven MPs have never done a real job”. Likewise, in Switzerland, “we are observing a new generation of politicians that entered very young in politics and very young on the floor of the national parliament”, according to University of Zurich researcher Sarah Bütikofer.
“Most of them do not have a lot of professional experience from a non-political job or a non-political environment.”
Evi Allemann of the centre-left Social Democratic Party is a member of this new generation who has since developed a great deal of experience. Allemann, now 36 and a member of the national legislature, joined Bern’s cantonal parliament at age 20 and was the youngest member in its history.
“Getting elected to a political position in Switzerland is difficult at a young age,” she says. “But at that time a big theme was the underrepresentation of young people in politics, and that seemed to strike a chord with voters.”
In 2003 she was elected to the national Parliament, and – as the youngest member that year – gave the traditional welcome speech at the opening session. “That was a big opportunity, because circa an hour after entering the legislature you speak in front of everyone.”
Allemann, who was educated as a lawyer, is one of the few politicians who describes politics as her profession. “In Switzerland, this idea of a militia parliament is deeply anchored, but it doesn’t reflect reality.”
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