Switzerland miscounted. You read that right: Switzerland (opinion)

Switzerland miscounted.  You read that right: Switzerland (opinion)

Switzerland has voted. And the statistics office miscounted. The reactions are harsh. There’s something calming about that, our author thinks.

Are there no certainties anymore? So now there is an election fiasco in Switzerland, the country of luxury watches, which otherwise works like clockwork. Actually. Because: election fiasco. Switzerland voted on Sunday. The result of the federal parliamentary elections was a shift to the right – albeit a little less right-wing than initially thought. Due to an error during data import, the first numbers had to be corrected. In three of the 26 cantons, votes had been counted several times.

The Interior Ministry reported the error on Wednesday. The distribution of seats and the elected National Councilors are not affected by this. The successes of the election winner, the right-wing SVP, were somewhat lower than expected (27.9 instead of 28.6 percent), as were those of the center (14.1 instead of 14.6 percent) and the FDP (14.3 instead of 14, 4 percent). The Greens (9.8 instead of 9.4 percent), the SP (18.3 instead of 18 percent) and the Green Liberals (7.6 instead of 7.2 percent), however, were able to enjoy increases.

It’s all about the nitty-gritty

None of them are crazy differences, but they are crucial. This is about the nitty-gritty in the Confederation – and every other democracy too. Trust in the processes and institutions. The confidence that your own voice counts. The reactions are correspondingly harsh. The press reviews range from “Embarrassing! Embarrassing!” about “election fiasco” to the clear: “Such a mistake must not happen.” One look at the USA is enough to see where this mistrust can lead in the worst case.

There are already warnings that the breakdown in Switzerland could be exploited. “For example, those who shouted before the election: ‘The post office is manipulated!’,” says political scientist Rahel Freiburghaus in the “Tagesanzeiger”. When asked how she reacted to the report, she replied: “I was, like most people, quite surprised. There have been counting errors abroad, for example in the election of the SPÖ chairmanship this summer” – the Social Democrats in neighboring Austria promptly appointed the wrong candidate as party leader, a glitch with far-reaching consequences. The error in Switzerland is comparatively light. But it’s Switzerland. The fact that something like this happened, “where we are considered accurate according to the cliché, surprised me,” says political scientist Freiburghaus.

Surprise not only for her. The reflexes that this can’t be true work like clockwork. And improvement is praised: The Federal Statistical Office “extremely regrets” the error and “takes the incident very seriously.” Processes in this sensitive statistical area would be adjusted in the future. Hopefully a breakdown of this kind won’t happen again any time soon. We need certainties such as the punctual arrival of SBB trains at the platform of a Swiss train station and the constant ticking of Swiss democracy.

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Source: Stern

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