Tears of outgoing Bundesrat minister Merz

September 20, 2010, 11 Comments

Click image to see Merz on TV

With only two days to go before his successor is elected by the Swiss parliament, outgoing Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz was today reduced to tears. Of joy. He was trying to answer a serious (-ly dull) question about increased imports of cured meat into Switzerland, and really couldn’t hold it together. Just watch the clip from the Swiss evening news above – it doesn’t matter if you don’t understand the German, you’ll end up laughing along with him. My favourite bit is the fifteen seconds from 01:13, when Merz loses it completely trying to say Bündnerfleisch (dried meat from Graubünden). If only all parliamentary questions were this entertaining.

Come 8am Wednesday morning, there certainly will be some more tears in parliament. Two of the seven seats in the Bundesrat, or government council, are up for election after the retirement of Merz and Moritz Leuenberger. All month the main political parties have been jostling for favours and influence. By rights the two seats will go to two parties that currently hold them: the SP and FDP. But as the last few Bundesrat elections have shown, nothing can be taken for granted; there’s always a surprise in store. It’s the one time Swiss politics is exciting – and certainly makes for great TV over some cornflakes.

So the big question is who will parliament (it’s always parliament not the people that chooses the government) elect? Will it be two women, creating a female majority in the government for the first time? Or will it be two people from Canton Bern, where both the favourites come from? The male politicians from Zürich must feel caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. I can’t wait to see what happens. For now, I’ll just carry on laughing with Herr Merz, who showed once and for all that the Swiss have a sense of humour.

11 Comments on "Tears of outgoing Bundesrat minister Merz"

  1. Janie Tuesday September 21st, 2010 at 12:27 AM · Reply

    That’s funny if I understand it. He was having trouble saying the word itself. How many times does that happen with German words that are added together as on long word?

    • swisswatching Tuesday September 21st, 2010 at 07:48 AM · Reply

      Actually not that often, Janie. The word he stumbled over (Bündnerfleisch) is quite short and easy by German standards, but he was having such a hard time controlling his giggles that he could barely speak.

  2. John Zimmer Saturday September 25th, 2010 at 07:40 PM · Reply

    Hey, Diccon. What’s that about great minds thinking alike? I had the same idea for my public speaking blog:

    It really is nice to see this kind of thing happen from time to time. A reminder that we are all human.


  3. Lotika Wednesday September 29th, 2010 at 07:13 PM · Reply

    Great blog! Found it thanks to… to… Bündnerfleisch! X-DDD

    On the other hand a lingustic question. I speak some German but not enough to judge if the text is funny itself. I read somewhere that the construction of the whole text that Mr. Merz had to read is highly bureaucratic and hence the whole funny situation which culminates in the word “Bündnerfleisch” 🙂 Is it true?

    • swisswatching Wednesday September 29th, 2010 at 07:49 PM · Reply

      The text itself isn’t funny at all. What was funny was that the text was both ridiculously complex and absurdly mundane – all about how spices can be spread onto meat while curing it. The silliest thing was that it’s all about imported meat, and yet the example he has to ead outis Bündnerfleisch, which is only ever made in Graubünden so can never be imported! PS Glad you like the blog

    • swisswatching Wednesday September 29th, 2010 at 07:53 PM · Reply

      Here’s the text in German: In Anlehnung an Anmerkung 6a zum Kapitel 2 der KN hat die Zollverwaltung zusätzlich sogenannte Schweizerische Erläuterungen zum Zolltarif publiziert. Danach werden gewisse Erzeugnisse noch im Kapitel 2 eingereiht, denen bei der Herstellung Würzstoffe zugesetzt worden sind, sofern dadurch der Charakter einer Ware dieses Kapitels nicht verändert wird (z. B. Bündnerfleisch). Ausgeschlossen von diesem Kapitel bleibt hingegen Fleisch, bei dem die Würzstoffe auf allen Flächen des Erzeugnisses verteilt

      And in English (roughly): Referring to addition 6a in chapter 2 of the KN, the customs office has additionally published the so-called Swiss explanations about the customs tariff. According to that, certain products, which have spices added during the production, are added to chapter 2 if the character of a product of this chapter isn’t changed (for example “Bündnerfleisch”). Meat that has spices on the whole surface of the product, and that is noticable with the naked eye, is excluded from the chapter.

  4. alfiesaden Wednesday January 4th, 2012 at 01:00 PM · Reply

    hello – is it just me !! can any one explain why when i type in the bing browser “” i get a different site yet whe i type it in google its ok? could this be a bug in my system or is any one else having same probs ?
    alf saden

    • swisswatching Wednesday January 4th, 2012 at 01:02 PM · Reply

      Hi Alf. I have no problem with Bing. Brings up my blog straightaway. Sorry!

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