Between 2007 and 2010, Andrea Sidler Weiss, at that time a member of the CVP party, was head of planning on Zug’s core city council. Now she has announced she is to stand for election to the Council of States in Bern as an independent.
The 56-year-old mother of four is very much a citizen of the city of Zug, living in a listed building in Grabenstrasse and doing this interview with a journalist of the Zuger Zeitung in the Fischmärt (fish market) restaurant. She even loves swimming in the lake.
When asked why she had suddenly decided to get involved in politics again after such a long time away, she said it had always been in the back of her mind to re-engage, and with Joachim Eder deciding to stand down as a member of the Council of States this year, she decided this was the right time. “Indeed, it would be a great honour for me to be the first woman from Zug to be elected to parliament in Bern,” she said, adding how she still had the energy and desire to do this. She mentioned how she had started off her political career as a member of the greater city council of Zug, and at one time was the leader of the CVP party on the council.
As to standing as an independent, she said that, after a disagreement with the CVP party some ten years ago, she had decided not to join a party again, “wanting to represent all the people of Zug in Bern,” not least as she felt most Swiss people did not vote according to one particular party but independently, and changing their minds, too. “These are the people I want to represent,” she said.
When it was put to her she had been quoted in the press as wanting to break through “antiquated ways of doing things” she mentioned that the FDP party, for example, was not even fielding a woman as candidate to a seat in the Council of States. While she may think on similar lines (centre right) to the FDP, only men of these parties were being put forward. “And another problem prevalent in Bern these days is how so many politicians take on causes there, by which she meant the interests, for example, of insurance companies and business. “Money, in other words,” she said. “This nepotism annoys me. Of course, I have a network of contacts, too, but my family and I are down-to-earth people. My only cause would be the canton of Zug.”
When asked why she had chosen the slogan “Women’s power to Bern,” she mentioned the lack of women in parliament there. “And I want to change this; it is high time,” she insisted. “After all, half the population of Zug is made up of women, as is half the population of the whole country.”
As to what policies she intended to pursue there, she mentioned the AHV old age and dependents’ pensions, and looked to changing the current system to make it fairer for married couples. Then she would seek reform of the National Equalisation Fund, a system by which wealthier cantons support poorer cantons financially. Furthermore, would like to see more consistency in immigration matters and a tolerant society, in addition to promoting vocational training, not least as she herself is a teacher of children in the earlier years of secondary education.
As to what personal characteristic she would bring to the job, she mentioned a sense of humour and a certain, and necessary, relaxed manner, adding how was a very determined person and once she had an idea in her head, she would not let it go. “I am not one who is easily discouraged,” she said.
When she was reminded her role as head of planning in Zug did not meet with approval everywhere, she admitted she may have been better in a legislative rather than in an executive role, her department secretary at the time saying she (Sidler Weiss) was too honest and direct. “However, being in the smaller of the two parliamentary chambers in Bern, I would be in a different situation and would represent my canton and all its needs there.”
How do think you would get on there bearing in mind you would be the only independent representative there among the other 45 members?
“I am assuming Peter Hegglin (a former director of finance in the canton) will be re-elected, then there will be six of us campaigning for the remaining seat. It is difficult to forecast what will happen. I am doing it because I want to do it and because I would feel honoured if elected. “If you do not try, you’ll never know, will you?”
As to her campaign and the size of her budget, she said this was limited (CHF16,000 raised through donations), but she would still be seen on placards in every municipality in the canton. Furthermore, she has had flyers printed and is on Facebook. “I do not want to overdo it all,” she confessed. “Lots of people have already had enough of seeing all these faces.”