Swiss President Ueli Maurer has opened the World Economic Forum (WEF)external link by praising “Swiss” values such as freedom, responsibility and direct democracy.
“We reject diktats. The most commonly used word in our constitution is ‘freedom’ and we are proud of that,” said Maurer during his opening address in Davosexternal link on Tuesday morning. “We are free to accept responsibility for ourselves and others,” he explained.
Maurer, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency alongside his role as the finance minister, highlighted the Swiss work ethic when he cited the rejection of a popular initiative calling for an additional week of vacation.
“That’s not the right answer to the new challenges of working life. We must perform and adapt,” said Maurer, noting that the Swiss were open to new ideas and dynamic development.
In this context, Maurer highlighted the Swiss system of direct democracyexternal link, which allows for “a real dialogue between the elites and the people” – instead of a “top-down monologue”. He noted that while this system takes time, it leads to solutions that are more acceptable to all.
The Swiss president called on WEF participants to make the most of new technologies as well as personal relationships.