Swiss Review 4/2022

AUGUST 2022 Swiss Review The magazine for the Swiss Abroad The absolute top Swiss job – the caretakers of the Jungfraujoch Switzerland, a country of tenants – where only the minority own property Despite avalanches and mudslides – the mountain village of Guttannen is not giving up

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Where is Switzerland’s undisputed top job? At a big bank? At a chemical company? In the corridors of political power? No, it is 3,500 metres above sea level at the selfstyled “Top of Europe”, the Jungfraujoch. It is on this lofty perch that Daniela Bissig and Erich Furrer work all year round. Bissig and Furrer are caretakers at the perennially snow-covered Jungfraujoch high-altitude research station. We paid them a high-flying visit (see page 10). It is most fitting for two caretakers to be sitting atop Switzerland, surveying the view across the Alps and beyond. Caretakers play a key role in Swiss life. During our childhoods, they were the scrupulous background presence in the school building. And because the majority of Swiss do not own their home but live in rented accommodation, caretakers have remained lifelong companions for many of us. Caretakers are the guarantors of order in our apartment blocks. They clean the stairwell, make sure the house rules are observed and that the household waste is properly disposed of, mow the grass outside, keep the bicycles upright, and throw back any wayward footballs to the children next door. Talking of apartment blocks, it is, incidentally, worth noting that no other European country has such a high proportion of tenants and such a low proportion of homeowners as Switzerland. The fact that most people in Switzerland rent has implications for our towns and cities, our everyday lives, the environment, and political life (see page 4). We are a land of tenants, but that is not the fault of caretakers, I hasten to add. Indeed, I wish to extend an honourable mention to the best caretaker of them all. She would never refer to herself as a facility manager, and still sprightly at the age of 80 is in charge of looking after our six-apartment building. Endowed with the patience of a saint, she is the glue that binds us together, helping to maintain good karma among neighbours new and old. She still cleans the stairwell and is unfailingly friendly – even when someone has just walked up the squeaky-clean stairs in their muddy running shoes. Hurray for her! Life in our little neighbourhood would be a lot less congenial without our caretaker. MARC LETTAU, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF 4 Focus Where only the minority own a house – Switzerland, a country of tenants 10 Report Daniela Bissig and Erich Furrer and their job to top all jobs 13 Society The future of Swiss pension benefits is once again at a crossroads 16 Politics With e-voting, all hopes rest on Swiss Post 19 Images An exhibition showcasing well-known artist Paul Klee, curated by children 22 Nature and the environment An Alpine village defies climate change, despite avalanches of snow and mud 25 Economy Migros to remain alcohol-free in the future 30 Culture Summer in the Swiss Alps is full of living traditions 32 Notes from the Federal Palace Switzerland and Liechtenstein – two neighbours draw even closer together 35 SwissCommunity news Reflecting together on the challenges facing democracy 39 Discussion Comments from our readers The top job Title image: Erich Furrer and Daniela Bissig, caretaker couple on the Jungfraujoch. Photo: Franziska Frutiger “Swiss Review”, the information magazine for the “Fifth Switzerland”, is published by the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad. Swiss Review / August 2022 / No.4 3 Editorial Contents

4 Wealthy Switzerland is The majority of people in Switzerland live in rented accommodation. This is quite unique compared with other European countries. Its implications affect our everyday lives, the environment, politics, and – it goes without saying – the rights of tenants. But not always in the way we would expect. Everyday life in Switzerland – most people live next door to someone who also rents. A typical example is the Gäbelbach housing estate on the outskirts of Berne. Photo: Keystone Swiss Review / August 2022 / No.4 4 Focus

5 SIMON THÖNEN Anyone who returns to live in Switzerland or moves to the country for the first time will most probably start renting accommodation in an apartment building. This is because Switzerland is a country of tenants. A clear majority of the resident population, 58 per cent, rent their homes. Such a high percentage is unusual. Homeowners account for the majority everywhere else in Europe (Germany has the thinnest majority, at just over 50 per cent). The proportion of homeowners in Europe is routinely around two thirds or more. This certainly makes Switzerland a special case. But although our country normally revels in exceptionalism, such a high proportion of tenants is not necessarily something of which it is proud. On the contrary, the media normally like to moan that so few live in their own home. “The dream of home ownership is an illusion for most people in Switzerland” was the headline of a recent article about rising house prices in the free daily newspaper “20 Minuten”. And the dream is not simply to own a flat, but “a house with a garden”. But if the majority of Swiss live in rented accommodation, mostly apartments, is this really a problem? And how does it affect our everyday lives, the economy, politics, and the environment? Based on studies and what the experts and stakeholders say, there are various aspects to consider. These are not always what we would expect. In this article, we consider nine hypotheses. turn down their radiators because of the Ukraine war and higher energy prices is that heating consumption in older apartment buildings is often not measured or calculated individually. Instead, heating costs are invoiced equally among all the tenants. If you are frugal with your heating, you end up picking up the tab for your wasteful neighbours. Whether a higher home ownership rate would simplify Switzerland’s switch from nuclear and fossil fuels is another matter altogether. And ultimately one for referendums to decide. Homeowners tend to be against tougher rules, while tenants are more in favour. Hypothesis no. 3: A high proportion of tenants is a sign of prosperity You would think that people in rich countries are more likely to afford home ownership. But precisely the opposite seems to be the case. Lesswell-off countries have a higher proportion of homeowners. The statistics bear this out. In Albania and Romania, the home ownership rate is the highest in Europe at over 96 per cent. It is also very high in Portugal, Spain and Greece, at around three quarters. What do we learn from this? That people’s own four walls are more important for financial security in countries with shakier economies. s a country of tenants Hypothesis no. 1: A high proportion of tenants helps to combat urban sprawl According to architect and local Green politician from Biel, Benedikt Loderer, a high proportion of tenants is not a bad thing at all. “Rental developments tend to be high density. This counteracts urban expansion,” he says. Loderer is a fierce critic of the extensive detached-housing developments often seen in Switzerland’s Central Plateau region. “If Switzerland’s entire eight-and-a-half- million population lived in detached houses, we would have no countryside left.” The dream of owning bricks and mortar on a patch of green land is an illusion anyway, he adds. “We know that most homeowners are not really homeowners at all. Their houses effectively belong to the banks issuing the mortgages.” Hypothesis no. 2: It is harder for tenants to do their bit for the environment The landlord alone decides how a tenant’s apartment is heated and how well it is insulated. And the problem with politicians asking tenants to Swiss Review / August 2022 / No.4

We see a similar pattern in Switzerland, where the highest home ownership rates are 58 and 54 per cent respectively in the rural cantons of Appenzell-Innerrhoden and Valais. In the economically strong cantons of Basel-Stadt and Geneva, homeowners only account for 15 and 18 per cent of the population respectively. Most people rent instead, as is generally the case in Switzerland’s major cities and in prosperous cantons such as Zurich and Zug. Hypothesis no. 4 Renting is a model that works – and it is often cheaper than owning your own home Political geographer Michael Hermann has a surprising explanation for why the proportion of tenants in prosperous Switzerland is so high. “Essentially, people believe that renting is a concept that works,” he says, pointing out that collaborative and cooperative business models generally have a stronger tradition in Switzerland than in other countries. Take cooperative retail chains Migros and Coop, for example. Or the ubiquitous shared laundry room in your archetypal Swiss apartment building. It is also cheaper to rent than buy – or at least it has become so recently, according to economists at bank Credit Suisse in a study published a short time ago. “Purchasers of an owner-occupied home have to pay more than for a comparable rental apartment,” they wrote. But only now is this the case again, because mortbacks. In most cities, apartment hunting is a sport in itself. Good, affordable flats – a very rare thing – usually change hands on the quiet. Unless you have a secure income or good contacts, expect to live in the outlying suburbs or in unattractive spots such as noisy through roads. Hypothesis no. 6 The Swiss tenants’ association must have a lot of political clout You would think that tenants are on to a winner in Swiss referendums, given that they make up the majority of the electorate. Not necessarily! On 9 February 2020, an emphatic 57 per cent of Swiss voters rejected the “More affordable homes” popular initiative put forward by the Swiss Tenants’ Association (MV), which wanted no less than ten per cent of new builds to be used for “affordable” social and cooperative housing. This is not the first time that the association has stumbled at the polls. In fact, the tenants' association has failed with all its popular initiatives to date – at least at national level. Is Switzerland a country of tenants who dream of home ownership and vote accordingly? Yes, if you ask the Swiss Homeowners’ Association (HEV), which cited a survey of people searching for accommodation. The results of the questionnaire revealed that people in middle age are particularly interested in owning property “because they finally want somewhere to settle”. The MV general secretary, Green National Councillor Natalie Imboden, actually concedes the same gage rates have rebounded. Previously, it was the other way round during the period of low interest rates that began in 2008. This reversal points to a certain degree of normality returning. However, such studies tell us little about individual situations. Furthermore, the cost of housing – like the cost of living – tends to be very high in Switzerland compared to other countries. The price of renting also puts a huge strain on household budgets, particularly among the low-income demographic. Hypothesis no. 5: Life as a tenant is a varied and sometimes stressful experience There is a high level of residential mobility in Switzerland. In statistical terms, one in ten people move home every year. It appears that it is less about changing location than a change in actual accommodation. In 2020, the average relocation distance in Switzerland was only 12.5 kilometres. However, almost three quarters of all moves involved upsizing into bigger or downsizing into smaller accommodation. Obviously, many people resize according to their personal circumstances. It is no surprise that people who live in apartment buildings move twice as often as those who live in detached houses. Being a tenant can therefore be quite a varied experience. By the time you reach middle age, you can easily have lived in a dozen or more apartments. But flexible living has its drawMoving is a popular hobby in Switzerland, a country of tenants. This means empty banana boxes are a prized commodity often in short supply. Photos: Keystone Swiss Review / August 2022 / No.4 6 Focus

ever, landlords letting new properties have considerable power. This creates a two-track system, whereby rents are much higher on the market than they are for existing leases. If you live in the same apartment for a long time, you pay less than someone would if they were starting to rent that property for the first time. Hypothesis no. 8: The balance between landlords and tenants is fair or unfair, depending on your perspective Landlord and tenant rights in Switzerland represent a good compromise, according to the economically liberal think tank Avenir Suisse: “Regulation of the Swiss rental housing market is quite modest, meaning that good-­ quality accommodation is always available to rent.” This is the main reason why Switzerland has a high proportion of tenants, it says, adding that rental properties in other countries are squeezed out of the market by excessive regulation. Natalie Imboden of the MV disagrees: “The rental market isn’t working in urban areas, where most people live.” Tenants need more protection from landlords cashing in without doing the actual work of a landlord. Not so, says the HEV managing director and SVP Cantonal Councillor for Basel-Landschaft, Markus Meier. “Our members are unable to build enough housing in urban areas, which is a bad situation for point: “Tenants dream of buying because they no longer want to live with the risk of being kicked out of their accommodation one day.” On the other hand, it would be wrong to imagine that the MV has its work cut out compared to the HEV, given that the latter has also failed with all of its popular initiatives. Nevertheless, both organisations still carry a lot of referendum clout and are very well placed to torpedo any proposals that they dislike. Basically, they are good at blocking legislation but not so good at pushing through their own ideas. It is a permanent tug of war between the two camps. Hypothesis no. 7: Switzerland has a two-track renting system Tenancy agreements in Switzerland tend to drill down to the minutest detail – such as stipulating the apartment heating temperature (20 degrees) or how much money tenants have to pay for repairs themselves (up to 150 Swiss francs). And the principle of cost-covering rent applies, i.e. rising costs can be the only justification for rent increases. But the market also has a big role to play beyond the landlord-tenant relationship, especially when it comes to new lets. First of all, it is fair to say that the protections in place for tenants are quite good. Landlords can still terminate tenancy agreements if they wish, but legal safeguards mean that affected tenants usually have a good chance of having their stay extended – sometimes for several years. Howthem too.” The protections that the MV wants are excessive and will only squeeze the rental market further, in his view. Hypothesis no. 9: Tenants shy away from clashing with their landlords There is a huge amount of money at stake in the landlord-tenant dynamic. According to an MV-commissioned study, tenants have paid 78 billion francs too much in rent over the past 15 years. By law, the cost of renting in Switzerland is linked to mortgage rates. Interest has fallen since 2008, but rents have continued to rise. This study is nothing but a red herring, the HEV retorts, because it fails to take increased running costs and investment into account. The MV begs to differ. What is undeniable is that many tenants opt out of asking for a lower rent, despite the law working in their favour. Why? According to the MV, many are afraid of rocking the boat and clashing with their landlord. But Markus Meier of the homeowners' association believes that the tenantlandlord relationship is not as bad as the tenants' association makes out. He cites a federal government survey, which says that 63 per cent of the population are “fairly happy” or “very happy” with current tenancy law. With mortgage rates rising again, the ball is now in the court of landlords. Property owners will soon be able to increase rents on the basis of these higher rates. Will they also exercise restraint to avoid upsetting tenants? The go-to literary reference work for a better understanding of the Helvetic soul also addresses life as a tenant. “Der Waschküchenschlüssel (oder was, wenn Gott Schweizer wäre)” is the work of author Hugo Loetscher and was published in 1988. Available in German. Swiss Review / August 2022 / No.4 7

Switzerland elected to the UN Security Council Switzerland was elected to the UN Security Council for the first time on 9 June 2022. The election by the UN General Assembly was won with 187 out of the 190 valid votes – an outstanding result. Switzerland now has the right to participate in conflict resolution during 2023 and 2024. While the Federal Council hailed the election as a success and a vote of confidence in Switzerland, opponents at home criticised Switzerland for putting its traditional role as an independent mediator between hostile parties at risk by taking a seat on the Security Council. (MUL) Swiss National Bank raises key interest rate In mid-June 2022, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) raised its key interest rate for the first time in 15 years, a reactionary move designed to combat current inflation. According to the SNB, the tighter monetary policy is intended to prevent inflation from spreading even further to goods and services. The increase to the key interest rate was surprisingly significant: 0.5 percentage points, i.e. from -0.75% to -0.25%. Although the rate remains slightly negative, the hike bodes well for savers. Banks are no longer as likely to pass on the burden of negative interest rates to their customers – or if so, only to a limited extent. Mortgage interest rates, on the other hand, could rise further, causing some apprehension among property owners regarding the consequences of the higher interest rate. (MUL) Switzerland is now a “cooperative” neutral country At the World Economic Forum in Davos at the end of May, President of the Swiss Confederation and Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis surprised everyone with a new term: Switzerland is now pursuing the concept of “cooperative neutrality”. What his attempt to redefine neutrality actually means in specific terms is not yet entirely clear. The new definition is essentially a reaction to the war of aggression against Ukraine. According to Cassis, even a neutral state must take a stance. “That is why Switzerland is joining the countries that will not stand idly by as mere spectators to this attack on the foundations of democracy.” Switzerland supports the EU's sanctions against Russia in their entirety. (MUL) Covid-19 review – censure for the Federal Council The parliamentary Control Committee has criticised the Federal Council for its political handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the committee’s view, the Federal Council was not quick enough to recognise that the pandemic was a crisis of global proportions that would affect all sectors. The government is also accused of underestimating the pandemic’s duration. Furthermore, during the course of the pandemic, responsibility for almost all tasks was assumed by the Department of Health, a decision deemed erroneous by the committee. (MUL) Peter Maurer Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) since 2012, is stepping down amidst a global storm. Announced last November, his resignation will now take place in September. Swiss diplomat Mirjana Spoljaric is poised to succeed him. And how will the former Secretary of State at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs be remembered? Opinions are mixed. Positive feedback is notably directed at the president's actions with regard to the weapons of the future and "killer robots". His decision to open the Geneva institution to non-Swiss citizens also garnered him praise. Although the Berne native’s diplomatic skills have been lauded time and again –he has shaken hands with Xi Jinping, Emmanuel Macron, Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin – the outcome of these meetings is a matter of some contention. Back at headquarters, staff members are happy to shift to a less diplomatic approach: one more focused on helping the victims of conflicts. They would have liked to hear their president denounce violations of humanitarian law more strongly. “He embodies the ICRC's tact and discretion, but it's the effectiveness of an action that counts,” says an insider. The biggest blunder? Maurer's decision to join the Board of Trustees of the Davos World Economic Forum. This move was roundly denounced by elected officials and former delegates, who stated that “humanitarianism cannot collude with multinationals”. During Maurer's reign, the organisation's budget has almost doubled to two billion Swiss francs. Should this be considered an achievement? Some believe that this increase is a double-edged sword, as it will prove difficult to sustain. The task of presiding over the organisation charged with upholding humanitarian law in an increasingly unstable world is most definitely a challenging mission. STÉPHANE HERZOG Swiss Review / August 2022 / No.4 8 Top pick News

9 THEODORA PETER When Russia invaded Ukraine almost six months ago, many people spoke of a watershed moment. War in 21st-century Europe had seemed inconceivable until then, but the tanks and missiles unleashed on Ukraine have forced policymakers to rethink European security. Many countries are now strengthening their military capabilities. Germany alone is investing 100 billion euros in its armed forces and has pledged to spend two per cent of its GDP on defence. In Switzerland, parliament has decided to increase the country’s military budget to 1 per cent of GDP by 2030. This would move defence spending up from the current level of five billion to around seven billion Swiss francs a year. A minority consisting of the SP and the Greens criticised the decision, calling it “blind militarisation” and warning that spending on education, agriculture, environmental protection, and development aid could suffer as a result. Six billion francs for fighter jets Defence Minister Viola Amherd wants to use a portion of the additional funds to equip Switzerland’s ground troops with artillery. The Federal Council also intends to go ahead with the already approved purchase of new F-35 fighter jets. It aims to sign the relevant contracts with US manufacturer Lockheed Martin by the end of March 2023 – before the “Stop F-35” popular initiative is put to voters. The SP, the Greens and the Group for a Switzerland without an Army tabled the initiative, lamenting that the US fighter jet was a “complete overkill”. Thirty-six F-35 jets including weaponry will cost a total of six billion francs. In September 2020, only a wafer-thin 50.1 per cent majority of voters approved the purchase of new fighter jets, as many readers will recall. No one knew back then what the actual aircraft model would be. New debate on arms exports The war in Ukraine has also reignited the debate on arms exports. It was only last year that parliament curtailed the Federal Council’s authority to approve arms exports (see “Swiss Review” 6/2021). The War Material Act forbids arms shipments to countries involved in “internal or international armed conflict”. Consequently, Switzerland has been rebuffing requests from friends and neighbours to re-export Swiss arms to Ukraine. This has to change, says FDP leader and National Councillor Thierry Burkart. In his view, allies who “share Switzerland’s values” should receive exemptions in future. Parliament is set to debate the sensitive issue in autumn. Direct arms shipments to Ukraine are out of the question. As a neutral country, Switzerland cannot favour any warring party when exporting military equipment. Switzerland to bolster its armed forces Europe has begun rearming amid the war in Ukraine. Switzerland also wants to invest more in its armed forces and quickly procure new fighter jets. At the top of Switzerland’s military shopping list – the F-35 fighter jet manufactured by US company Lockheed Martin. Photo: Keystone Swiss Review / August 2022 / No.4 News

STÉPHANE HERZOG She was an HR manager for the Directorate of Public Works in the canton of Uri. He worked in a power station in Nidwalden. Since February 2021, Uri natives Daniela Bissig and Erich Furrer have been living in a different world altogether. Their new job? Custodians and facility managers at the Jungfraujoch High Altitude Research Station, a scientific platform perched 3,454 metres above sea level. “When we got the job as caretakers or ‘facility managers’, I called my two daughters to tell them that we had some important news. They thought we were going to emigrate to Norway!” laughs Daniela. When her children and the couple’s former employers found out about the new job in the lofty heights between the Mönch and the Jungfrau, they weren’t surprised. These two love the mountains and the snow. Daniela even has a snowflake tattoo on her right arm. And there's certainly plenty of the white stuff here on this spur between the northern and southern Alps. “In winter, we go out at 6am, before breakfast, to shovel the snow that has built up during the night,” explains Erich. This daily task begins in front of the residential building and continues 100 metres higher up, on the Sphinx, the name of the rocky promontory where the station's observatory is located and which the custodians access using an old-fashioned lift. They start by clearing two large terraces, The ‘highest’ paid job in Switzerland? Custodian! In February 2021, Daniela Bissig and Erich Furrer landed the job of a lifetime: custodians and facility managers at the Jungfraujoch High Altitude Research Station. Their days spent at an altitude of 3,500 metres are marked by five weather observations. A report. which can be exhausting after a heavy snowfall, and then have breakfast. Weather-watching rituals Their second task is dedicated to weather observations. Either Daniela or Erich ascends the Sphinx five times a day to monitor the skies for 15 minutes. In summer, the weather vigil starts at 8am and ends at 8pm. Perched on a terrace at the station, overlooking the large platform for tourists arriving on the Jungfraujoch train, Erich or Daniela report on the weather conditions. Their observations are used by MeteoSwiss as a basis for weather forecasts. What is the snow quality like? Is it raining – someHigher, farther, faster, more beautiful? In search of somewhat unconventional Swissrecords. This edition: The absolute top job in Switzerland. 10 Report

floor we find the library, used by the researchers as a workspace. The caretakers' flat is on the fifth floor. From the double bed, there is a view of the Aletsch Glacier, which slopes down to the canton of Valais. Taking a break at lower altitudes Daniela and Erich work in the heights and spend their time off far below in Erstfeld, a village in Uri at the northern end of the Gotthard Base Tunnel. Staff rotations take place every two weeks: when they come down, another couple head up. At the time of our visit, Daniela and Erich were preparing to welcome two new custodians. The previous couple lasted four and a half years. “It’s a job that requires a spirit of hospitality and service,” says Daniela, who would like to keep her position until she retires. The first couple who worked at the Jungfrau station didn’t manage to stay together. The husband remained working there for 30 years, despite his wife's departure on the arm of a thing which didn’t occur 20 years ago – or is there hail? The custodians also describe the visibility and cloud cover. Fog is present about 40 percent of the time on the Jungfraujoch. The cloud report is completed by dividing the horizon into eight slices. Ten different types of clouds are categorised. Cirrus clouds are the easy ones, as they form at 9,000 metres. The other heights can be measured by looking at the surrounding mountains: the Jungfrau, the Kleine Scheidegg pass and the Schilthorn. When the sky is clear, the view reaches all the way to the peaks of the Feldberg (Germany) or La Dôle, 150 kilometres away as the crow flies. “This is a central task that mustn’t be neglected no matter what,” says Erich, who since March has been navigating around the station on a makeshift scooter put together by a Jungfrau train employee after he broke his leg in Norway. The station custodians are responsible both for the maintenance of the premises and certain equipment, as well as welcoming the researchers who come to carry out experiments in these facilities. In the maze of corridors and different levels of the Jungfraujoch, we come across a Zurich scientist from the Federal Laboratory for Materials Testing and Research. At the Sphinx, we meet a Belgian researcher who is taking part in an experiment launched 50 years ago on the gases contained in the atmosphere. The inhabited part of the station is built into the side of the mountain. Its floors are connected by a small lift in a shaft carved out of the rock. On the ground floor, there is the custodians’ workshop, three laboratories and a laundry room. On the first floor, ten small Swiss-chaletstyle rooms provide accommodation for the researchers. They can also relax in a beautiful wood-panelled lounge whose walls display photos of two foreign researchers who died in a crevasse in 1955 and a custodian killed by a falling rock in 1964. The kitchen is on the third floor with an adjacent living room. On the fourth On the left: The daily caretaking tasks at high altitude are by no means limited to shovelling snow. They also include observing the weather and recording meteorological data. Swiss Review / August 2022 / No.4 Above: Erich Furrer and Daniela Bissig on the Jungfraujoch. Their job requires them to be ready for any weather. Their workplace is exposed to driving snow, frost and storms. Photos: Franziska Frutiger, 11

military man, so the story goes. The station is akin to working on a ship. Is there a risk of arguments? “We each work on our own for most of the day,” says Erich. The couple are reunited for meals and at night, and they also carry out the morning and evening weather observations (the most beautiful of them all) together. At high altitudes, meals are large and the need to keep hydrated is imperative. The menus are put together in Erstfeld, and the food is then ordered from a shop in Wengen and arrives by train. “We spend less here because we order exactly what we need,” Daniela points out while offering visitors little chocolates in the shape of the Jungfrau. The custodian couple are well aware of the physical effects the altitude can have. “On our first day back, we make sure we move slowly. The first night we don’t sleep very well, but after that, we’re completely acclimatised again,” she explains. Solitude during the pandemic It was in 2020 that our two hosts came to an instant agreement that they both wanted to apply for the job. “The only thing that worried us a bit was the financial side, since we would be losing about 30 percent of our income,” comments Daniela. Thankfully, in the end, the foundation that employs them (see box on the left) increased their working rates slightly. Erich, who accompanied one of Daniela's two daughters up the nearby Mönch, is in his element here. “This is the job of my life,” he declares. At the height of the pandemic, the two custodians sometimes found themselves completely alone at the station. “It was like being in a bubble,” recalls Daniela. A job in the sky The Jungfraujoch research station offers the ‘highest’ annual paid job in Switzerland. The two couples who work as custodians at the station are employed by the International Foundation for High Altitude Research at the Jungfraujoch and Gornergrat (HFSJG). Founded in 1930, it represents scientific institutions from six European countries and China. The Swiss members of the foundation include the municipality of Zermatt, the Gornergrat and Jungfrau railway companies, the Swiss Academy of Sciences and the University of Bern. An average of 1,000 working days are carried out each year at this research site. The experiments conducted from the rocky outpost are now focused on the environment and climate. The station is home to approximately 50 experiments in fields as varied as meteorology, glaciology, biology and medicine. (SH) © swisstopo ist ein Portal zur Einsicht von geolokalisierten Informationen, Daten und Diensten, die von öffentlichen Einrichtungen zur Verfügung gestellt werden Haftung: Obw hl die Bundesbehörden mit aller Sorgfalt auf die Richtigkeit der veröffentlichten Informationen achten, kann hinsichtlich der inhaltlichen Richtigkeit, Genauigkeit, Aktualität, Zuverlässigkeit und Vollständigkeit dieser Informationen keine Gewährleistung übernommen werden.Copyright, Bundesbehörden der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft. 4 6km 2 0 Massstab 1: 200'000 Gedruckt am 10.06.2022 14:39 The trip back down to the valley first leads through solid rock – a reinforced tunnel connects the research station with the summit stop of the Jungfraujoch railway. Photos: Franziska Frutiger A quiet evening spent in solitude with true rustic charm. Reading is a preferred hobby since the nearest entertainment is rather a long way off. © Swisstopo 12 Report

DENISE LACHAT The old-age and survivors’ insurance scheme, or OASI, is the Swiss state pension scheme. Practically all of Switzerland’s inhabitants, Swiss and non-Swiss, along with many Swiss Abroad, are entitled to state pension benefits. Parliament drew up the scheme in 1947 in the aftermath of the Second World War, with OASI subsequently coming into force on 1 January 1948. Previously, welfare had been something of a lottery for the old and disabled, depending on how much money or assistance was forthcoming from family members, charities and the church. OASI soon underwent further enhancements and facelifts. It has been revised a total of ten times. The revisions came thick and fast, particularly around the end of the 20th century. This culminated in the final adjustment to date, when the retirement age for women was raised from 62 to 63 in 2001, and to 64 in 2005. Since then, it has also been possible to draw the state pension early, and the scheme has been adjusted in line with inflation. People power OASI has remained untouched over the ensuing couple of decades. Plans to alter it have invariably been torpedoed – either directly by the federal parliament or later at the ballot box. There has been no genuine reform of the state pension for 20 years. What are the social and political reasons for this logjam? Michael Hermann, political scientist and director of the Sotomo research institute, believes he knows the answer. Cost cutting is necessary due to higher life expectancy and a decline in the number of young people at work who are paying into the pension coffers. But getting the electorate to approve cost-saving measures, or an increase in the retirement age for that matter, has become almost impossible. Hermann: “OASI is unique because it concerns everyone, but older men and women really hold all the cards. Any reform would directly affect people in their 50s and 60s, who would wonder why they were being singled out.” Older voters flock to the polls in higher numbers than younger voters. This applies to all issues. Logically, the older demographic would have a louder voice in any plebiscite concerning OASI. Hence, the nature of Switzerland’s political system is the factor preventing reform of the state pension, says Swiss state pension — still a work in progress Once again, Switzerland has a crucial decision to make about the future of its state pension system. In autumn, voters will give their verdict on the latest reform of the old-age and survivors’ insurance (OASI) scheme. But two contrasting popular initiatives are already calling for further changes to the system. Essentially, OASI very much remains a work in progress. Hermann. He cites the Scandinavian countries, which have a strong social democratic tradition but no direct democracy. The retirement age almost everywhere in Scandinavia is 67, or about to be within the next few years. More often than not, the age of retirement is directly linked to life expectancy. Leader of the Young Liberals Matthias Müller thinks Scandinavia is the model to follow. His party has launched a popular initiative to bring the retirement age for men and women in Switzerland to 66 by 2032 and raise the retirement age more slowly thereafter, in line with life expectancy. According to Müller, policymakers have been unable to put OASI on a sustainable ‘Jassen’ is the all-time favourite Swiss card game, especially popular among older people. The neverending political version of the card game is trying to deal the right hand for the future of the old-age insurance system. Photo: Keystone Swiss Review / August 2022 / No.4 13 Society

footing over the last 20 years. “This impairs Switzerland’s ability to reform itself, and is particularly detrimental to young people like us,” he says, noting the disillusionment shared by many of his age. Voters to give their verdict in autumn But before the Young Liberals put their popular initiative to the electorate, there is another matter on the agenda. On 25 September 2022, voters will give their verdict on parliament’s latest reform package, OASI 21, which aims to balance OASI revenue and expenditure and secure the level of retirement benefits in Switzerland. OASI 21 would be funded by raising the retirement age for women from 64 to 65 and increasing VAT by 0.4 per cent. The reform would allow for greater flexibility in the retirement age and would also make it possible for pensions to be drawn gradually. Trade unions and left-wing politicians in particular are less than enamoured. Complaining that women will bear the brunt of OASI 21, they managed to collect the necessary number of signatures for a referendum in record time. Unions and left-wing parties want to increase pension benefits instead – and have submitted their own popular initiative to this end. People who have worked all their lives deserve a good pension, they say. Thirteen pension payments a year is the idea that they have put forward. But the Young Liberals are not happy with OASI 21 either, calling it “no more than a mini-reform or baby step”, to quote Matthias Müller. The youth wing of the FDP wants to go further by linking the retirement age to life expectancy. Whether it can convince older voters of the benefits of such a proposal is another matter altogether. Two contrasting initiatives to be put to parliament Which of the solutions is it to be? It is interesting that both popular initiatives will come to public attention when they are debated in parliament just a few weeks before the OASI 21 referendum. Will the electorate reject OASI 21 for fear that a yes vote would be interpreted as a signal for further hikes in the retirement age? Or will it endorse the reform and put paid to any pension increases? If opinion polls and previous referendums are anything to go by, voters are well aware that the state pension scheme is in questionable financial health. This is a pivotal moment for the state pension, and the situation is becoming critical, says the left-leaning coalition championing a 13th OASI pension payment. Such a How pension provision is structured in Switzerland At present, the maximum OASI pension is 2,390 Swiss francs per month per person. The minimum OASI pension is 1,195 francs. Married couples can receive up to 3,585 francs in total. These sums lend considerable purchasing power in countries where the cost of living is low, but are insufficient to make ends meet in Switzerland. Two other pension pillars help to fill the gaps. Besides the state pension consisting of OASI and supplementary benefits (pillar 1), occupational retirement provision based on pension funds (pillar 2) was introduced in 1985 while private pensions regulated by law (pillar 3) have been available since 1987. This three-pillar system is enshrined in the Federal Constitution. Its aim is to maintain the individual's customary standard of living in retirement or in the event of death or disability, for their own benefit or that of their survivors. However, people on low wages struggle to accumulate enough pillar 2 benefits and often lack the requisite income to build up pillar 3. (DLA) ‘Jassen’ sharpens your mental arithmetic skills. When it comes to retirement, relying solely on one's OASI pension is making the wrong calculation. That's because Swiss old-age insurance benefits are based on three pillars. Photo: Keystone Swiss Review / August 2022 / No.4 14 Society

Different approaches to reforming the state pension Since 2014, the state pension fund has been paying out more money than it receives. The OASI 21 reform package is the Federal Council and parliament's attempt to balance OASI expenditure and revenue and secure the level of retirement benefits in Switzerland by increasing VAT by 0.4 per cent and raising the retirement age for women from 64 to 65. Under OASI 21, the decision as to when to draw a pension is also more flexible. Both men and women can draw their pension from the age of 63 at the earliest or defer it until they are 70 at the latest. Gradual pension withdrawal is also possible. Working beyond the reference age of 65 can increase a person’s pension amount, thereby providing an incentive to work longer. The initiative championed by the Young Liberals (“Making the retirement age more flexible”) calls for the retirement age for men and women to be raised to 66 – and increased further thereafter, in line with life expectancy. It proposes developing occupation-related, flexible solutions and pension models for people unable to work up to the age of 66. Trade unions and left-wing political parties have submitted the “For a better life in retirement” initiative, in which they call for a 13th OASI pension payment to be made to all pension recipients, without this having a detrimental effect on the level of, and entitlement to, supplementary benefits. Trade unions and the SP have now gone one step further and presented an additional proposal that involves using a proportion of Swiss National Bank (SNB) profits to shore up the pension system. Their popular initiative is called “SNB profits for a strong OASI”. (DLA) Overview of all federal votes on 25 September 2022 Popular initiative to end factory farming According to this popular initiative, the constitution must protect the dignity of animals within the animal husbandry industry, and intensive, large-scale livestock farming must be banned. The animal and environmental protection groups tabling the initiative want to end the factory farming of hens, pigs and cows, with the federal government defining criteria for animal-friendly housing, access to outside areas, and slaughter. But opponents believe the initiative is a waste of time. Farmers already take care of their livestock, while Switzerland’s Animal Welfare Act is stringent enough, they say. More on pages 26–27. OASI reform package – containing two proposals To future-proof the finances of the old-age and survivors’ insurance scheme (OASI), the Federal Council and parliament want to raise the female retirement age from 64 to 65. Women born between 1960 and 1968, whom the consequences of this age hike would hit the most, would receive supplementary pension benefits as compensation. To fund these offsetting payments, the government would increase VAT by 0.4 per cent from its current level of 7.7 per cent. Voters will decide on two items: a change in OASI legislation in order to raise the female retirement age, and a federal decree on additional funding that entails an increase in VAT. Trade unions and left-wing political parties oppose the reform package. They say that women will bear the brunt of the proposals, and warn of further plans to dismantle pension provision. More on pages 13–15. Partial abolition of withholding tax By changing the Withholding Tax Act, the Federal Council and parliament wish to strengthen the debt capital market and improve Switzerland’s competitiveness. Specifically, this would involve abolishing withholding tax on interest income from Swiss bonds. The so-called Swiss transfer stamp duty would also no longer apply to Swiss bonds. The SP, the Greens and trade unions oppose the plan, which would result in an annual tax shortfall of several hundreds of millions of Swiss francs. They argue that only wealthy investors will benefit from the tax relief, which gives carte blanche to potential tax evaders. (TP) remark could easily have come from the opposing side. Depending on your political affiliation, possible remedies include working longer, drawing lower pensions, paying higher salary contributions, raising VAT, funnelling inheritance tax into the state pension scheme, or a combination of the above. Or we can fund OASI using money from the Swiss National Bank, say the SP and trade unions as part an additional popular initiative currently in the pipeline. Looking ahead to the autumn vote, the future outcome remains unclear. OASI is still a work in progress. DENISE LACHAT IS A FREELANCE JOURNALIST BASED IN MORGES (CANTON OF VAUD) Swiss Review / August 2022 / No.4 15

EVELINE RUTZ We are making good strides. This was what the Federal Chancellery and Swiss Post essentially had to say about e-voting in April. They were reacting to a report in which independent experts, who had put the e-voting system through its paces, concluded that “significant” progress had been made. For example, e-voting documentation is now clearer, more comprehensive and better structured than it was in 2019. The source code has also attracted a great deal of positive feedback. But the experts have pointed out vulnerabilities as well. One of these is the cryptographic protocol, which is used to verify the votes cast without violating the confidentiality of the voting procedure. The cryptographic protocol is an essential part of the security framework. Swiss Post has already heeded some of the findings and says that the project is now in the “next development phase”. It intends to complete this phase during the course of 2023. E-voting has been a long-running saga Switzerland has already been palpably close to delivering e-voting a few E-voting – all hopes rest on Swiss Post It is currently not possible to vote online in Switzerland. If everything goes according to plan, cantons will be able to start piloting e-voting again in 2023. Swiss Post should have its e-voting system up and running by then. times in recent years. But there have always been setbacks – a case of two steps forward, one step back. E-voting was first piloted in 2004. It was even possible in some cantons to vote in the national elections via computer, tablet or smartphone in 2015. E-voting was very popular among Swiss Abroad, with the “Fifth Switzerland” casting around a third more votes than normal. Over 300 pilots took place in 15 cantons. This was until the Federal Council decided to abort the project in 2019, after the canton of Geneva and Swiss Post had pulled their IT solutions due to financial considerations and security flaws respectively. The federal government subsequently adjusted the parameters for a new attempt at e-voting. It wanted stricter security and an open-source strategy, while announcing that independent specialists would conduct reviews. The first such check has now taken place. Three cantons intend to trial e-voting in 2023 Ariane Rustichelli, Director of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), is cautiously optimistic. “We trust the process and hope that Swiss Post can quickly implement the requested improvements,” she says, noting that supporters of e-voting have already been left disappointed more than once. “But we will only believe it when we see it.” Political willingness to facilitate e-voting in the foreseeable future is likely to have increased during the pandemic – a crisis that showed how valuable digital services can be. Rustichelli: “E-government helps to safeguard our direct democracy.” The OSA director reveals that some can- “We trust the process and hope that Swiss Post can quickly implement the requested improvements.” Ariane Rustichelli, Director of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) Swiss Review / August 2022 / No.4 16 Politics

tons are interested in rolling out pilots in 2023. These are Basel-Stadt, St Gallen and Thurgau. Grisons wants to start in 2024. BFH has also developed a source code The fact that all eyes are currently on Swiss Post is due to a lack of competition. Work on the e-voting system pioneered by the canton of Geneva has continued, albeit in just one area. A team at the Berne University of Applied Sciences (BFH) has continued to develop the source code since 2019. The team had already been consulted for the cryptographic specifications at an earlier juncture. When its service contract ended with the canton of Geneva, it carried on working within the parameters of a federally run e-government project. “We were able to implement all security-related parts of the system in full,” says IT professor Rolf Haenni. Their efforts have paid off, with the publicly available code now reaching a high-quality level, he adds. Others will be able to build on this expertise. “But no company has yet come forward, unfortunately.” Young people do a lot by smartphone Developing an e-voting system is an extremely complex and expensive undertaking, in which Swiss Post has already invested a lot of time and money, says Rustichelli. “We hope that Swiss Post stays the course.” Swiss Post, for its part, is keen to stress the strategic importance of the project. Spokesperson Silvana Grellmann: “We are talking about the future of Swiss Post in an increasingly digital world, so what we have here is an essential investment in the Swiss Post of tomorrow.” Surveys show that voters want an additional means of voting, and their voices will only get louder. “As far as young people are concerned, you can do everything on your smartphone. Try explaining to them in the near future that they can do everything on their phones, except vote.” Swiss Post has underlined its intention to make an e-voting system available from 2023. However, it is prioritising security over speed. “The biggest challenge is maintaining trust in our solution,” CEO Roberto Cirillo recently told the media. The company is therefore being very open about how it detects and irons out flaws. In 2021, it published its source code and launched a bug bounty program. It has since received around 130 tip-offs from hackers and paid out a total of 97,000 Swiss francs in rewards. It has not disclosed how much it is spending on e-voting otherwise. There will be another independent review once Swiss Post has improved its IT solution. Only when the results of this review are available can the cantons get on with requesting approval for new trials. Depending on circumstances, they will have to change their infrastructure, existing processes, interfaces with other systems, and voter identification cards accordingly. “Based on various factors and deadlines, this integration work will take one to one-and-a-half years to complete,” says Barbara Schüpbach-Guggenbühl, chair of the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Chancellors. This is why the plan to make e-voting available in time for the federal elections in autumn 2023 is ambitious, she adds. The chances of it happening are unlikely. The 788,000 or so Swiss who live abroad will probably have to rely on postal voting. This would be regrettable, says Rustichelli. “Voting papers often arrive too late, so many will be unable to exercise their political rights.” “The biggest challenge is maintaining trust in our solution.” Roberto Cirillo, CEO Swiss Post Swiss Review / August 2022 / No.4 17