In this globalized world, parliaments enjoy a special kind of legitimacy
On 16 October 2011, Mrs. Micheline Calmy-Rey, President of the Swiss Confederation, inaugurated the 125th IPU Assembly in Bern.
Q: What is your message to the MPs present in Bern?
M.C.-R. In this globalized world, parliaments enjoy a special kind of legitimacy. They directly represent the citizens. On the international arena, MPs must be more directly involved in government delegations and help enhance parliaments at the international and supranational levels. The European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe come to mind.
Q: You inaugurated The House of Parliaments in 2003 in Geneva and here you are inaugurating a jubilee Assembly. Do you think relations with the IPU can be strengthened?
M.C.-R. I hope so. The IPU plays an important role. It promotes a relevant role for parliaments.
Q: In many countries, parliamentarians and other political leaders come under criticism from citizens. What can you say to those who no longer believe in politics and no longer have faith in their leaders to convince them to go to the polls and become engaged?
M.C.-R. In Switzerland, the political system - characterized by frequent referendums - is participatory. It allows the government to take decisions that are largely attuned to the concerns of citizens. This system is an instrument of national cohesion, because it forces us to get out and get into direct contact with our constituents.
Q: What advice would you give to women aspiring to politics?
M.C.-R. Have faith in yourselves! Women are faced with difficulties linked to a number of challenges since they shoulder political responsibilities in addition to their family obligations. They often suffer from a lack of child-care facilities. Nevertheless, women have a crucial contribution to make and they are gaining ground in politics and holding important positions.
Photo: Swiss Parliament/Christof von Waldkirch .