It will be an extraordinary session. Above all, however, symbolic politics can be expected with a view to the autumn elections.
The initial outrage over the debacle surrounding Credit Suisse has subsided. Now comes the political reappraisal. From Tuesday, the National Council and the Council of States will deal with the crisis at the big bank for three days.
At the center of the debates are the commitment credits totaling CHF 109 billion. Parliament can only approve it afterwards. A refusal would at most be a reprimand for the Federal Council and the finance delegation, which decided on and approved the loan.
Above all, democratic-political importance
Political scientist Adrian Vatter from the University of Bern explains that the session has a democratic-political significance. For him, the session has a double symbolic meaning: “On the one hand, Parliament is trying to exercise its supervisory function and, on the other hand, the electorate wants to be shown symbolically where the individual parties stand.”
Parliament wants to position itself vis-à-vis the Federal Council and mark the direction in which regulations could go in the future, says Vatter. Even if the debates in the two councils are likely to be primarily a “Chropfleerete”, the first substantive pegs could be hammered in. Because in addition to the loans, various amendments and postulates from the Commission are on the agenda. This involves, for example, examining possible lawsuits against the CS management or competition issues.
Declining difference adjustment
“We will primarily see a difference between the National Council and the Council of States,” expects Vatter. Many proposals were made in the National Council, but the Council of States refrained from doing so. “In the end we will have a correction of the differences, in which most of the proposals will probably be rejected,” Vatter continues.
Even if most applications and advances are likely to fail, the first substantive pegs could be hammered in. “We will certainly define directions, but will have too little time for concrete things,” says Vatter. “It will be important for Parliament that emergency law is made more concrete and that the ‘too big to fail’ legislation is improved,” explains the political science professor.
When does an extraordinary session take place?
One extraordinary session is in itself nothing exceptional. It can be requested by a quarter of the members of the National Council or Council of States. Normally, an extraordinary session is held during the normal session weeks. It is rare for Parliament to hold a so-called extraordinary session outside of normal session times. In addition to the session in May 2020 to deal with the Covid crisis, Parliament held an extraordinary session on Swissair financing in 2001.
The fact that the session was convened at very short notice is due to the Financial Budget Act. This provides that Parliament can request an extraordinary session if the federal government approves an urgent loan of over CHF 500 million. The session must then take place in the third calendar week after it was requested. This provision was enshrined in law after the 2008 financial crisis. This is only the second time it has been used.
The decision as to whether the end of Credit Suisse will be dealt with in a parliamentary commission of inquiry (PUK) will not be made in this session. This decision should not be made until May at the earliest.