Christoph Blocher

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Christoph Blocher
Christoph Blocher (Bundesrat, 2004).jpg
Former Member of the Swiss Federal Council
From: January 1, 2004 – December 31, 2007
Predecessor Ruth Metzler
Successor Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf
Information
Party Swiss People's Party
Spouse(s) Silvia Blocher
Religion Swiss Reformed

Christoph Blocher (born 11 October 1940) is a Swiss businessman and politician. He is best known for his prominent and influential role in the Swiss People's Party (SVP) and for his membership on the Swiss Federal Council.

Blocher is arguably the most influential, notable, and important politician in modern Swiss history, as he transformed the SVP into a solid right-wing party and the largest and strongest party in Switzerland, and he thus shaped Swiss and European politics in so doing.[1][2]

Early life

The son of a pastor, Blocher was born in 1940, the seventh of eleven children.[1]

Blocher served in the Swiss military, achieving the rank of Colonel.[3][4]

While attending the University of Zürich, Blocher co-founded the Students' Ring, which opposed the 1968 student protests and the left-wing politics on university campuses.[5]

Business career

Blocher started working at EMS-Chemie, "a maker of adhesives and coatings for the engineering and automotive industries",[1] in 1969 as a student in its legal department.[6][7] In 1972, Blocher was voted Chairman of the Board and CEO of the company, and in 1983, he purchased a majority of EMS-Chemie.[6][7]

When Blocher was voted into the Swiss Federal Council in 2003, he retired from all business functions in EMS and sold his majority holding with his four children on Dcemeber 30, 2003.[6][7] Blocher's oldest daughter, Magdalena Martullo-Blocher, became CEO of EMS on January 1, 2004.[6][7]

Blocher was a successful businessman, and when he was a member of the Federal Council, he was worth about $1.4 billion, the ninth wealthiest person in Switzerland.[8]

Political career

Rise in power

Blocher has state that "he fell into politics by chance following a local zoning dispute."[1] He became the chairman of the Zürich canton chapter of the SVP, and in 1979 he was elected to the Swiss National Council, the lower legislative chamber.[8] Blocher joined the SVP in 1972 and became the SVP president of the SVP chapter in Meilen in 1974.[5] He was elected to the Cantonal Council of Zürich in 1975.[5]

Blocher served as a member of the Swiss National Council, the lower house, from November 25, 1979 until December 12, 2003, when he was elected to the Federal Council, and again from December 4, 2011 until May 30, 2014.[4][9]

In 1986, Blocher "led and financed" a campaign opposed to joining the United Nations.[8] Blocher the successful, as over 75 percent of the Swiss population voted against joining.[10] After the referendum, on June 19, 1986, he and fellow National Councilor Otto Fischer, a member of the FDP, founded the Campaign for an Independent and Neutral Switzerland (AUNS), a conservative organization that supports complete Swiss political independence and direct democracy and opposes the erosion of Swiss sovereignty by international organizations.[10] Blocher served as the president of AUNS from its foundation until his election to the Federal Council in 2003.[10][11][12]

Blocher caused the SVP to adopt conservative positions.[13] His newly-conservative Zürich chapter of the party won out in the struggle against the moderate Bern-chapter.[13] Due to Blocher's influence, the SVP started shifting to the right, forming Euroskeptic policies and thus opposing Swiss integration into the globalist and socialistic EU.[8][14] Because it was the only major party that took real conservative positions, it rose quickly in popularity,[13] reaching 22.5% in 1999 and over 29% in 2015.

Swiss Federal Council

Blocher was elected to the Swiss Federal Council after the 2003 elections, after the SVP received a record amount of votes.[15] Because he was the only federal councilor who took a real conservative stance, he was controversial and was not re-elected by the Swiss politicians in 2007, even though the SVP received an even larger share of the vote.

Post councillorship

In 2008, Blocher became one of the five vice presidents of the SVP.[16] He did not run for re-election in 2016,[17] but he would continue to hold a senior position in the party[18] and remain involved in politics in order to fight against EU encroachment of Swiss sovereignty.[2]

Blocher was influential in the success of the successful 2014 immigration referendum that will end the free movement of people with the EU hand help restore Swiss independence.[19]

Impact

Before Blocher's rise to power, Swiss politics were "cosy" and "consensual", governed by idealistic liberals who supported Swiss integration with Europe and the world and thus a loss of Swiss sovereignty.[1] While Blocher was not fully able to reverse these trends, he was successful in stopping and taking steps to reverse Switzerland's pull towards the EU.

Views on American politics

Blocher believes that Ronald Reagan "was the best president I have seen", and he believes that businessman Donald Trump would mirror Reagan in being an underestimated, but mature and great president.[20]

Personal life

Blocher is married and has three daughters, a son, and eleven grandchildren.[3]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Copley, Caroline & Bart, Katharina (February 1, 2015). "Right-Wing Firebrand Shakes Up Cosy Swiss Politics". The Star. Retrieved February 1, 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Shields, Michael & Richard Balmforth (January 11, 2016). Swiss right-wing icon Blocher says will stay on to annoy enemies. Reuters. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Personal information. Blocher.ch. Retrieved on January 27, 2016.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Christoph Blocher. parlament.ch. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Skenderovic 2009, p. 139.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 EMS Company History. EMS-Chemie (1 January 2015). Retrieved on 17 August 2015.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Swiss Chemical Conglomerate Mints Three Billionaire Sisters. Forbes.com (December 13, 2013). Retrieved on January 27, 2016.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Profile: Christoph Blocher. BBC News. October 15, 2007. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  9. McLean, Morven (May 9, 2014). Christoph Blocher quits ‘bureaucratic’ parliament. The Local. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Geschichte. Campaign for an Independent and Neutral Switzerland official website. Retrieved on October 8, 2016.
  11. ‘We’re Not the Only EU Sceptics’. Swissinfo (May 15, 2014). Retrieved on April 1, 2016. “Lukas Reimann took over the presidency in April 2014 from 52-year-old Pirmin Schwander, who himself had taken over from Blocher in 2004.”
  12. TimelineJS Embed. Retrieved on April 2, 2016.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Vom Milchpreis zum Messerstecher-Plakat. Neue Zürcher Zeitung (20 March 2017). Retrieved on 21 March 2017.
  14. Recent developments - Switzerland. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  15. Christoph Blocher. admin.ch. October 8, 2016.
  16. People's Party elects new leader. Swissinfo. March 1, 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  17. Swiss populist firebrand Blocher to step down. The Local. January 10, 2016. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  18. Alt Bundesrat Christoph Blocher bleibt an der SVP-Parteispitze. Aargauer Zeitung. March 2, 2016. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  19. Freeman, Colin (February 15, 2014). Christoph Blocher, the Swiss billionaire behind the referendum: Q & A. The Telegraph. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  20. Revill, John (April 12, 2016). Swiss People’s Party’s Christoph Blocher Takes Swipe at SNB’s Franc Policy. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 9, 2016.

External links