One day before the opening of the three-week summer session of the Swiss parliament, the general secretary, Mariangela Walliman-Bornatico, has come out in favour of discussing the idea of making it more professional.
In an interview with the "Sonntagszeitung" newspaper, Walliman-Bornatico said the current system has been treated as a "sacred cow" for too long. "In the long term, Switzerland cannot have a parliament that is so badly paid, that only those who are wealthy enough stand for election," she said.
Wallimann-Bornatico said she thought the issue would be debated increasingly over the next few years.
She also warned of the threat of an imbalance between parliamentarians and the administrative infrastructure. She said the legislative consisted of the 246 elected members and not the administration.
Parliament, she maintained, was facing a similar problem to the one faced by the Swiss judiciary. "Instead of increasing the numbers of judges, we are increasing the number of court clerks," she said. "At some time in the future we will have a situation where the judicial system has become a 'court clerk judiciary'."
The 52-year old will be in charge of her first full session of parliament when it reconvenes on Monday. She was elected to office in March in a 173-16 vote by the House of Representatives and the Senate.
As general secretary, she is responsible for the overall running and co-ordination of parliament.
swissinfo with agencies
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