“I am proud to have paved the way for other young parliamentarians”

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“I am proud to have paved the way for other young parliamentarians”

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Remo Naegeli

Becoming President of the National Council at just 31, Pascale Bruderer has had a dazzling career. In 2019 she retired from political life to devote herself to entrepreneurship. She has since opted for media discretion, but she has agreed to make an exception for swissinfo.ch.

This content was published on March 18, 2022 – 10:45 am

swissinfo.ch: How is your start-up Crossiety, an online platform that aims to facilitate exchanges and mutual help between residents, developing?

Pascale Bruderer: Crossiety is developing well. In 2021, we welcomed our common 100th partner. Furthermore, the scalability of our technology platform proved to be excellent and we have reached the breakeven point. The penetration of the German market has also been crowned with success and this motivates us in preparing for our Austrian expansion. But as a Swiss start-up, a fast establishment in French-speaking Switzerland is even more important to us.

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Born in 1977, Pascale Bruderer studied at the universities of Zurich and Växjö (Sweden). You have a bachelor’s degree in political science, public law and socio-economic history and a master’s in social sciences.

The socialist Aargau was subsequently municipal councilor in Baden (1997-2003), member of the Grand Council of Aargau (2001-2002), national councilor (2002-2011; presidency in 2010) and councilor of the United States (2011-2019) ).

After retiring from politics in 2019, she ventured into entrepreneurship as a co-owner and administrator of Crossiety. Additionally, she has become a member of several boards including TX Group, Bernexpo and Galenica.

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Crossiety’s goals are commendable, but you’re not the kind of start-up that interests investors.

Our ultimate goal is to serve local communities while being profitable. We do not seek to maximize our profitability. If we did, we would do differently, for example by commercially exploiting our users’ data. Being trustworthy and ensuring privacy protection are essential qualities that differentiate us from large global companies.

In the context of your business experiences, what did you learn that would have been useful to you in the exercise of your legislative mandates?

I have always tried to analyze problems according to more reading prisms, that is, putting myself in the shoes of others, even people without political commitment. Thanks to this approach I haven’t had any big surprises since I became an entrepreneur. However, both in my political life and now, I learn every day. I consider it a great privilege and am very grateful that I can still tackle tasks every day that challenge me intellectually and excite me in terms of ideas.

Within Crossiety, relatively few women hold leadership positions. Not convinced of the benefits of diversity?

On the contrary, diversity and inclusion are and always will be central themes for me. In addition to gender equality, I am also very attentive to the diversity of professional and personal experiences. As for Crossiety, we have gender equality on the board [composé de deux personnes]; in addition, our operations team includes very strong women.

Why did you leave the political world in 2019 to reorient yourself to the private sector?

My withdrawal from political life has generated amazement. Many people have wondered why I retired so early. But, after more than twenty years of parliamentary life, I discovered that my retirement came quite late. Politics is fascinating and I’ve always put a lot of heart into it. However, two years ago I had the opportunity to choose between an offer for the election to the government of Aargau or an entrepreneurial venture. I chose the second option.

The timing was ideal because politics has allowed me to gain considerable experience. Now that I am active in the private sector, I can make full use of all this knowledge. And I also have the opportunity to concretely implement the political values ​​that I have always defended and claimed for the economy.

Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

During your legislative mandates in Bern, did some large companies offer you seats on their board of directors?

I have received many offers but have always turned them down to keep my independence. I also told myself that if companies were interested in anything other than my seat in Parliament, they would contact me again after I retired from politics. And that’s exactly what happened! I also recommend that the federal parliamentarians in office take this same approach.

On the boards of directors there are mainly right-wing politicians. As a socialist, are you really in your place?

Times have changed! Topics like sustainability have become a necessity and are at the heart of the economy for good reason. I am not a member of various boards of directors despite my social-liberal and environmental fibers, but thanks to them.

You belonged to the right wing of the Socialist Party. Didn’t you feel completely comfortable with the ideas defended by this party?

Before entering politics, I compared the ideas of the socialist party with those of the liberal-radical party. In the end I opted for the Socialist Party and have never regretted it, mainly because I wanted to show that social-liberal ideas had their place within the Socialist Party. However, during my parliamentary life, party politics [Parteipolitik] it is the aspect that I liked the least. Fortunately, at the Council of States, the substantive policy [Sachpolitik] was in the foreground.

“I don’t sit on various boards of directors despite my social-liberal and environmentalist fibers, but thanks to them”

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When you joined the National Council at 24, you were the youngest National Councilor. Looking back, do you think your election was too early?

From a social point of view, I don’t think so at all because it is important for the new generations to be represented in Parliament. I also confess that I am proud to have paved the way for other young parliamentarians, including through my election as President of the National Council at the age of 31. Of course, I am very grateful to the entire Swiss population for the trust placed in me from a young age.

In the United States, each national parliamentarian is assisted by about thirty experts. In contrast, Swiss federal parliamentarians receive very little help.

I am very much in favor of the Swiss militia system because it guarantees closeness to the people. However, I see two problems. The first is the insufficient foresight of federal parliamentarians; the latter did not even have a second pillar! Fortunately, this is partially resolved. The second problem is the lack of parliamentary assistants. A general staff – like many other countries – is certainly not necessary but, for example, half-time assistance would increase the quality of parliamentary decisions by reducing the weight of lobbyists.

Is your retirement from politics permanent or is it possible to return to, for example, cantonal or federal executive positions?

I have never made career plans and, on this point, I have not changed. On the other hand, I have always dedicated myself with passion to the tasks that have been entrusted to me. For this reason, I am currently fully focused on my business projects. In addition to Crossiety, I also deal with the digitization of the payment infrastructure in Switzerland.

In accordance with JTI standards

In accordance with JTI standards

Other: SWI swissinfo.ch certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

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