Viola Amherd, the federal councillor who heads the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (VBS), was present at a recent meeting of the CVP party of the canton of Zug in Steinhausen. The photograph shows her on the left with Silvia Thalmann, who heads the Cantonal Department of Economic Development, in the centre, and Laura Dittli, the chairwoman of the CVP party of the canton of Zug, on the right.
With such a renowned visitor present, Amherd is the first ever woman minister of defence in the history of the Swiss Confederation, it was not surprising that the venue at the Dreiklang Centre was full.
As Manuela Käch of the CVP party who wrote (most of) this article mentioned, Amherd came across as likeable, with a sense of humour and showing much affinity with ordinary citizens.
When questioned by both Dittli and cantonal parliamentarian Andreas Hausheer, Amherd, who hails from the canton of Wallis, said she felt very happy to be in Steinhausen, not least as it reminded her of her time as a member of the council in Brig when it had a similar political make-up to that of Steinhausen.
Addressing those present, Amherd spoke of how she first became involved in politics and how she became to be a member of the CVP party and what it was like to be the first woman to head the VBS. “We are the party which builds bridges rather than creates problems,” she said, the audience reacting with applause, as they did repeatedly.
Käch went on to mention how Amherd was a member of the Federal Council “who launched procedures in strategically skilful way, listened to people, and implemented policies in a straightforward way. It is clear she feels at home in the Federal Council and in her role as minister of defence.”
When she was asked whether she wanted to do things better than her predecessor, Guy Parmelin of the SVP party who now heads the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, she replied that it was not her intention to do things better, but to do them well, something which the audience felt she was doing.
There followed a debate on reforms to laws pertaining to the protection of ancient monuments and historical buildings in the canton, which is to be subject to a referendum later this year, the CVP party opting to support the amendments, which means greater say for those who actually own the affected buildings and greater efficiency in the ways buildings are actually listed, whereas those opposing it fear destruction of the canton’s cultural heritage and object to the difference between how buildings older than 70 years and those built since are treated.