Image: KEYSTONE / Salvatore Di Nolfi / archive image
From the Federal Council candidate to the siding: Pierre Maudet’s case in 5 files
Pierre Maudet was considered a natural political talent. As an “animal politique”. As a “hyperactive” person who is always a few steps ahead. His name was almost never used without some adulation.
However, the exceptional Geneva politician fell deep. From the whiz kid who wanted to join the Federal Council with a warlike plan – to the convicted liar who wanted too much and stumbled over capital mistakes.
Pierre Maudet’s career, told as a drama in five acts.
Bild: KEYSTONE/Laurent Gillieron
It’s hard to believe. But Pierre Maudet, who already looked 40 at the age of 25 and dressed accordingly in patent leather shoes and suits, was also young and wild at times. When the oldest picture of him was uploaded to the Keystone media archive in 2000, the 22-year-old already had a bulging political biography.
It started with his desire for a skate park. The pubescent 12-year-old Pierre wrote a letter to the then mayor of Geneva in 1990 with the request that something should be done. But Maudet initially got no answer, then a “Non”. He did not like the official reaction and created the Geneva Youth Parliament three years later.
From then on it only goes up. One year after graduating from high school, he joined the FDP, and in 1999, at the age of 21, was elected to the Geneva city parliament. The re he accelerates: he organizes events and makes a name for himself in public. And in 2000 calls for a “union” in French-speaking Switzerland in which the cantons of Geneva and Vaud should work together more closely. He doesn’t convince the people – but from now on the media know: the name Pierre Maudet has to be remembered.
Maudet rises. He becomes parliamentary leader of his party, completes a law degree in Friborg and the military as a captain. He married at the age of 25 and became a father. He relies on the express train speed not only privately, but also politically.
At just 29 years old, he made the leap into city government and four years later the surprising election to the Geneva cantonal government. He distinguishes himself as a judicial politician, creating a bridge between green, urban and liberal concerns. That is well received: in 2013 he will be re-elected with a brilliant result, better than all other previous and long-established residents.
It is also the time when Maudet’s name is increasingly mentioned in German-speaking Switzerland: He wants to reform police, taxi and restoration laws and is met with opposition. But he always gives his statements eloquently – sometimes in two languages for the Swiss German press. But his name still remains a French side note that hardly anyone east of the Röstigraben knows.
Those who know him are betting on an imminent national political career: Maudet will become the respected young face of Geneva, which nobody can ignore when it comes to politics in western Switzerland.
His appearance on the national political stage came quickly and, above all, unexpected.
It has long been speculated when Maudet will also be elected to the Bundestag. In the summer of 2017, however, expectations were overtaken almost overnight by the “Maudet” express train when it surprisingly ran for the successor to Federal Councilor Didier Burkhalter.
In retrospect, we know: The hot “Maudet summer” is not the result of chance and luck, but rather a meticulously planned strategy called “Operation Valmy”. It started on July 25, 2017 in Maudet’s office at 7 Place de la Taconnerie in Geneva, as the “NZZ” later reveals. His candidacy, which is almost impossible to enforce, is being planned there: He wants to win a Federal Council election in which a Ticino should actually win.
Maudet, the warrior, gives everything. And for a moment of surprise, he also steals the appearance of his party comrade Ignazio Cassis: he was photographed on August 4, 2017 at the film festival in Cassis’ home canton, after he came out on the same day in an exclusive newspaper interview as a Federal Council candidate.
Maudet lobbies cleverly: he tries to hit all 246 parliamentarians in the Bundestag and sometimes surprises them with a home visit. He succeeds in the coup: On September 1, the FDP nominates a “three-way ticket”: Ignazio Cassis from Ticino and the two French-speaking countries Pierre Maudet and Isabelle Moret.
Bild: SWISS PRESS PHOTO/Lundi 13
In the days leading up to the Federal Council election on September 20, 2017, Maudet is getting a lot of momentum – above all from the “Blick”, which brings him to the front page several times and as “Maudet is a king of content. Maudet is non-ideological, strong in leadership and visionary ».
But Maudet failed and Ticino got another Federal Councilor in Ignazio Cassis.
Bild: SWISS PRESS PHOTO
Looking back, Maudet’s defeat in the 2017 Federal Council election was not the start of his fall. His trip to Abu Dhabi, his lies and mistakes are still completely unknown. But behind the scenes things are already simmering at this time. Among other things because of the persistent journalist Raphael Leroy.
He is the first to have questions about Maudet’s trips to the United Arab Emirates. We remember: In 2015 the Geneva politician flies business class with family and friends with Etihad, the emirate’s airline. Later, a company from the Emirates received the concession for ground handling at Geneva Airport. The journalist Leroy asks questions, recognizes the contradictions, but finds too little “hard” to be able to publish the story.
When Maudet achieved another top result in the cantonal elections in 2018, Leroy – meanwhile editor-in-chief at the “Tribune de Genève” – took the opportunity and asked Maudet again questions about the Abu Dhabi trip. The liberal made it clear at the time: The trip had been paid for by a businessman, so Maudet now had an “uneasy feeling”.
That’s a lie.
In August 2018, the public prosecutor announced an investigation against him. She accuses him of accepting advantages. The statement with the “businessman” was so arranged to cover up the true source of finance, so the allegation.
Maudet admits the fuss and apologizes. But he refuses to resign from the city council. Like hardly any other politician in Swiss history, he clings to power and receives one slap after the other. The government withdraws practically all dossiers from him, the cantonal parliament lifts his immunity, the party distanced himself from him. And finally throws him out.
At the same time, there are new allegations that suggest possible conflicts of interest in a major development at Geneva Airport. At the same time black party coffers and obscure financial flows come to light: Maudet’s political career was also financed by funds from secret support bank accounts, researches journalist Philippe Reichen in the book “Pierre Maudet – his case”.
In autumn 2020 Maudet will pull something like a rip cord and announce his resignation from the government council. However, he remains in office until the replacement election, for which he is running again.
It has been clear since February 22, 2021: Maudet was at least guilty of accepting benefits with the Abu Dhabi trip. He became one A fine of 300 daily rates of 400 francs each (total 120,000 francs) convicted. The penalty was conditional. He must also have a Compensation claim in the amount of 50,000 francs Afford.
One hour after the verdict, it is unclear whether it will really be the last chapter. So far, the first instance has made the decision – appeal to the next higher court is possible. The presumption of innocence applies until a final conviction. Maudet announced his immediate resignation if convicted.
But will he do it?
His career is currently in the balance – even on a siding, the course of which has yet to be set. By Maudet himself: he held on to his candidacy in the government council elections on March 7, 2021 until the end. He could get support this week if an investigation report on his administration is published.
In court he said: “As a man, I do not deny my guilt to those who have been hurt and affected. I repeat my apology. ” Two weeks from now it will show whether the people will forgive him if he does not withdraw his candidacy.
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Ignazio Cassis is the new Federal Councilor
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