Outgoing Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer managed to push the boundaries of government collegiality without fully breaching the time-honoured code of conduct, according to the media.
After serving 14 years in Switzerland’s executive cabinet, Maurer announced on Friday his intention to step down at the end of the yearExternal link.
Several media compared him to Christoph Blocher, another heavyweight in the rightwing Swiss People’s Party whose own ministerial reign ended in controversyExternal link.
Blocher was unseated by parliament in 2007 following complaints that he too frequently spoke out and acted against cabinet decisions. While cabinet debates can be fierce behind closed doors, all ministers are expected to fully back final decisions that are taken by the multi-party executive body, which is also known as the Federal Council.
Maurer, 71, is part of the same People’s Party generation that transformed it into Switzerland’s leading political party. He has served in cabinet since 2009, first as defence minister and since 2016 in charge of the country’s finances.
“Maurer succeeded where Blocher failed”, said the Blick newspaper on Saturday, which labeled his reign as a successful contradiction between airing his personal beliefs and toeing the cabinet line.
"Lightning-fast, capricious mind"
“He switched from party leader to the Federal Council at the push of a button – from one day to the next he was suddenly reticent,” states the newspaper’s opinion column.
Such reticence did not stop Maurer from wearing an anti-vaccine shirt at the height of the pandemic. But he managed to carry this off unscathed.
Le Temps labels Maurer a “political dinosaur” who got away with outdated views on women and taking liberties with ministerial collegiality.
The newspaper points to his failures to purchase Gripen fighter jetsExternal link as defence minister and tax reformsExternal link as finance minister. “But at the end of the day he has succeeded in imposing his own line.”
The Neue Zürcher Zeitung commemorates Maurer’s 44 years in politics. “It wasn’t always easy with him. But the country owes him a lot,” said the newspaper’s editorial.
Despite sometimes being “capricious” with other ministers and known to storm out of media interviews, his “lightning-fast mind” was behind an increased defence budget and the creation of a national Cyber Security Centre.
Most media agree that Maurer’s resignation marks the end of a political era and the opening of a new chapter from next year.
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