Who will be the next political head of the airport?

When the next seven Geneva administrative Councillors have been elected, who will have the airport in his/her department?

In the current Geneva administrative Council the airport sits in the department of solidarity and employment, whose current head is Isabel Rochat. However, this could all change when Geneva votes for the next seven Councillors.

As Daniel Warner pointed out in his excellent blog of last Monday, 28 October, there are a number of strange and arguably undemocratic procedures for deciding which of the seven elected persons will get which departments. In general, it seems that the ones elected with the greatest score, or who were already previously in place, get to pick not only their department, but also to include in it the particular elements which they happen to like. One can thus anticipate that Isabel Rochat would almost certainly like to hang on to the airport, since it is seen as efficient and brings in lots of revenue to Geneva. It also has the Councillor responsible as the Chairman of the Board.

Will Isabel Rochat be re-elected? There are some doubts there, since she has quite a lot of detractors. She also seems to have attracted criticism over her previous department, which included the Services Industriels de Genève (SIG) at the time when they were negotiating an agreement on windmills for electricity generation: an agreement much criticised at the moment. She was apparently not present at the crucial meeting of the SIG Board of Directors when the agreement was discussed.

If Isabel Rochat is re-elected, it will almost certainly because she is one of five proposed Councillors of the right wing: three from the Liberal-Radical alliance and two from the Christian Democrat party. This, of course, brings up one of the curiosities of Geneva, and Swiss, voting, whereby the electors receive voting information which includes one blank list and any number of pre-printed lists. For this next election there are 20 such pre-printed lists, many from associations created to influence the voting. In fact, there are only basically three different lists.

Electors, therefore, may choose to write up to names on a blank list (because of my British background, this would always be my preference!), or to take one of the pre-printed lists. In the latter case, it is permitted to cross out some names but write in other names.

The temptation, for many people, must surely be to take the easy way out and choose one of the 20 lists as his/her vote. Thus, Isabel Rochat starts with a certain advantage of being with four other strong candidates in seven of the 20 lists and thus collecting these votes. Will it be enough to counterbalance the number of voters who cross her out, perhaps in favour of one or more of the candidates on a different list? We will find out in due course!

If Isabel Rochat fails to be elected, then I would suspect that one of the stronger elected persons will want to take in the airport. Would it be François Longchamps, who had the airport before Isabel Rochat, or would he stay where he is, directing the plans for the future of land allocation and housing in Geneva (including the proposed Greater Geneva)? How about Pierre Maudet, who might want out of the responsibility of the prisons (always a difficult department)?

I would rather doubt that the next Councillor having the airport in his/her department would be anyone outside these three. If, by any chance, this does not happen, then I would think of the PDC candidates, since their party has long been a strong supporter of the airport.

What does your crystal ball say?

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