Several readers have asked who the handsome young candidate is in the right-hand column and how they can vote for him.
Sadly I couldn’t try my luck as those running for parliament have to be Swiss, at least 18 and not certifiably insane. I fall down on at least one of them. It does, however, raise an interesting question: what role do good looks play in Swiss politics?
The general feeling – backed up here in the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper – is that being easy on the eye certainly won’t damage your chances, but to make it to the top you’ll need to be able to back up your sparkling eyes with sparkling ideas and debating skills. In other words, it might get you an interview, but not necessarily the job.
The Tages-Anzeiger focused on 34-year-old Pascale Bruderer, a photogenic former speaker of the House or Representatives (pictured below) who has just become the first Social Democrat to gain a Senate seat in Aargau for more than 60 years. And all this having given birth to her first child eight days ago.
Bruderer is, by most people’s estimates, attractive, but not everyone was particularly impressed by her official campaign photo in which, according to the Tages-Anzeiger, “her hair had been blow-dried for extra volume and lift, she was wearing a smart black suit jacket and a pearl necklace”.
Gossip blog Klatschheftli raised an iBrow: “If you’re already reasonably good-looking, you shouldn’t get your styling tips from your grandmother!”
In May, the influential German news magazine Der Spiegel wrote a long article on beauty in politics, it which it called a wide cast of characters to the witness stand, from Barack Obama to the undeniably fit (to use a Darwinian term) deputy leader of the Social Democratic Party Manuela Schwesig.
It also pointed to former Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg – full name Karl Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg – whom it described as “slim and with a good chin … who not only had blue blood, but also looked like how Germans imagine their aristocrats”. That said, his chin couldn’t help him survive a plagiarism scandal.
Back in Switzerland, political scientist Regula Stämpfli saw a sort of standardisation in politicians’ looks – “if politicians are beautiful, they’ve been styled in a mainstream way – people are increasingly looking the same”.
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