The lost AHV vote and the anger of the SP women

The SP divides Switzerland into rich old men and powerless workers. To distract from her defeat, she digs ditches. This is dangerous.

Tamara Funiciello is angry. Together with other angry women, she stands in front of Bern train station and screams her frustration. The vote on raising the retirement age for women did not come out on her terms. The electorate narrowly accepted the revision on Sunday.

Hateful and angry: Tamara Funiciello (right) and colleagues.

Peter Schneider / Keystone

The 32-year-old national councillor, co-president of the SP women and former Juso president has every right to be ugly – just like everyone else in this country. What applies to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly also applies to anger. Being able to let one’s anger run free in public is constitutionally guaranteed in Switzerland.

SP Switzerland has lost another battle under its leadership duo Mattea Meyer and Cédric Wermuth

Funiciello’s outrage is just as legitimate as the irritation it arouses. The bourgeois women are angry because the hateful woman from Bern blames them for the result of the vote and even dictates how they should behave in the future. You would have to lend a hand for higher wages for women, higher BVG pensions, improved implementation of the care initiative and in general: “You still have a year to prove that you are serious. Otherwise it doesn’t need pink, but a red wave.”

The bourgeois men are pissed because they are being labeled as rich old men who should shut up for once. They are apparently the last people on this planet who can still be discriminated against with impunity. If Funiciello and her fellow campaigners have their way, this patriarchy of privilege must be fought by all means. Finally, in the vote on the AHV revision, the historically overprivileged men once again disregarded the historically underprivileged women.

But not only the class enemy is angry with Funiciello. There are also a few in our own ranks who are getting quite annoyed by the loud comrade. One mourns the 2020 pension reform, to the failure of which the Juso under Funiciello made a significant contribution in 2017.

Tamara Funiciello makes it easy for her critics. She is loud, direct, radical and moderately polite. But her outrage is real. The politician has always thrown herself into the battle between the sexes with the greatest possible bang. She is a convinced feminist and has always dealt with women’s politics and sexism. In their list of priorities, the topic ranks ahead of the non-violent overthrow of capitalism towards democratic socialism.

Compared to Funiciello’s furor, the anger of Swiss social democracy seems calculated. She lost the vote and with it the much-cited right to veto social bills. For too long she has relied on the “Working until 67?” campaign of the trade union federation instead of the resistance of many women, and she has not made her own proposal to counter the revision, which she believes has failed. Until now, it was said that an AHV revision could not be won against the SP. As of Sunday, that no longer applies.

Shouts out her anger: Tamara Funiciello.

Shouts out her anger: Tamara Funiciello.

Peter Schneider / Keystone

SP Switzerland has lost another battle under its leadership duo Mattea Meyer and Cédric Wermuth, and that in one of the most important dossiers. No party has lost more seats in cantonal elections than the SP. No other party has to be as afraid of its political competitors as the SP is of the Greens. And no party has gotten as entangled in the European question as the Social Democrats.

The political cannon thunder that the party lets off after the lost AHV defense battle is intended to distract from this. Before the narrative of a losing party can emerge, the SP prefers to write its own story, and it goes like this: Swiss social democracy and its left-wing allies are the only power in this country that not only thinks about the well-being of old men, but justice for them women, lower income brackets and social minorities.

Already on voting Sunday, Cédric Wermuth played the class war card. He described “the joy from the right to have shown it to the women and the workers again” as disgraceful and claimed that the proposal was “also a kick against the bottom”. Co-regent Mattea Meyer doubled: “Only pensioners and people with an income of more than 9,000 francs agreed in the majority.”

Mattea Meyer and Cédric Wermuth have moved a lot in the SP. They initiated internal reforms, looked for new forms of campaigning and perfected the long-term election campaign. The SP has brought little so far. The proud Social Democrats have to look on as their voters flock to the Greens. Since the red-green camp in Switzerland is always about the same size, the SP can only win if the Greens lose. The party leadership apparently rules out the possibility of getting votes from the middle.

SP Switzerland positions itself clearly on the left edge of social democracy. When asked where they would place themselves on a left-right scale between -3 and +3, SP voters say -1.6. For the majority of the party cadre, the result would be even closer to –3.

In hardly any other European country are the political positions of the major parties as far apart as in Switzerland. The SP is pretty far to the left, the SVP pretty far to the right. The voters, on the other hand, are where they have always been: some on the far left, some on the far right, most somewhere between the poles.

The average Swiss neither wants to overcome capitalism nor does he consider Alain Berset a dictator. While the pole parties are doing everything they can to mobilize their regular voters and are therefore moving further and further apart, the overall Helvetic electorate remains calm.

The gender divide cannot be denied

Apparently, one’s own dismay played a role in Sunday’s vote. From a purely factual point of view, women are not disadvantaged in the AHV. On the contrary. As can be seen from the AHV statistics, the majority of contributors are male. Two-thirds of the total income on which AHV contributions are levied comes from men. At the same time, 55 percent of the pension money is paid to women.

Nevertheless, the AHV reform approved on Sunday is at the expense of women. The post-election surveys show that this one-sidedness, which is perceived as unfair, has had a strong mobilizing effect. Many moderately politicized women let themselves be carried away by the lively discussion and still went to the polls. Never before have men and women voted so differently than with the increase in women’s retirement age: the difference was well over 20 percentage points.

The gender divide cannot be denied. But in a democracy, even close results are to be respected. With its staged indignation, the SP is moving dangerously in the direction of insulting voters. Whoever agreed to the reform is either a white old man or a middle-class woman corrupted by this male-dominated society.

With this, the SP is doing exactly what it has accused the SVP of for years: it is digging up new rifts. What the SVP means to immigrants and townspeople, the SP obviously means old men and people who earn more than 9,000 francs. Under Wermuth and Meyer, SP Switzerland has become a blockade party. Where their predecessor Christian Levrat was looking for a deal, the two are looking for a confrontation. Wermuth says this is the inevitable reaction to radicalization and bloc formation from the right. FDP President Thierry Burkart says the SP has become the party that divides the country the most. You have replaced the SVP.

Language and politics are closely related

Switzerland’s political culture and decency have suffered in recent years. The SP was usually at the forefront when it came to criticizing the SVP for verbal gaffes. However, that does not prevent them from copying the style of Switzerland’s most successful political party.

Language and politics are closely related. Also because they have recognized this, pole parties are more successful today than center parties. In the fight for voter shares, they cannot avoid escalation. But too much calculated anger can endanger a democracy. It turns political opponents into enemies – as the USA had to experience.

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