A New Turn In Switzerland?

After years of trying, right-wing politician Christoph Blocher won a seat on Dec. 10 on Switzerland's seven-member Federal Council, which administers government. The question is whether Blocher, a billionaire businessman, will tone down his fiery populism now that he has joined the political Establishment. The chances are good. For all his anti-immigrant and anti-European Union views, Blocher is a pragmatist who respects Swiss institutions and traditions. Blocher and another new member, Hans Rudolf Merz of the center-right Free Democratic Party, will give the council a clear majority for a pro-business agenda that includes lower taxes and less government intervention. "This is certainly good news for the economic well-being of the country," says Janwillem Acket, chief economist at Bank Julius Baer in Zurich. If Blocher can make the transition from controversial outsider to responsible insider, Switzerland's economy might finally get out of its rut.

Edited by Rose Brady

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