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‘Anti-Maudet’ initiatives launched in Geneva 

Two proposals have been launched in Geneva that would permit a cantonal government member or magistrate to be removed from office. One directly targets Pierre Maudet, who is under investigation for the alleged accepting of benefits.  

Swiss public radio, RTS, reported on Tuesday that campaigners can start collecting signatures for two initiatives at a cantonal level, launched on Monday, aimed at facilitating the removal of a sitting government members. 

Both proposals are linked to the so-called ‘Maudet affair’, which has seen the Geneva minister under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office since August 2018, in a case involving a 2015 visit to a Formula 1 race in the United Arab Emirates.   

Maudet has denied any legal breaches but publicly admits to lying about the all-expenses trip to Abu Dhabi offered by a senior sheikh.  

He is also suspected of accepting money for his election campaign and other favours from a hotel chain in Geneva to the tune of more than CHF120,000 ($120,001). Maudet has denied the allegations and apologized for his “imperfections” but rules out stepping down.  

Since the launch of the investigation, the 40-year-old centre-right Radical Party politician has been stripped of his powers in the cantonal executive as head of the security department and president. However, he was recently attributed a newly-created department in charge of business promotion.

‘Seriously violated duties’

Unlike other cantons, in Geneva there is no legal recourse allowing the removal of an elected minister. Changes to the law have been proposed in parliament, but for the campaigners behind the initiative further steps are necessary. 

The first initiative calls for an amendment to Geneva’s Constitution which would allow a state councillor or member of the cantonal judicial authorities to be removed if they are incapable of exerting their mandate long term and of having “seriously violated the duties of their mandate or grievously harmed” their office. 

The second initiative is seen as the application of the first proposal and directly targets Maudet. It calls for the minister to be dismissed with immediate effect “because of serious violations” of the dignity of his mandate. It also demands that his right to a state pension or compensation cease as soon as the law enters into force. 

The initiators have until 29 August to collect 7,941 signatures for the first text and 5,294 for the second, in order to force a public vote.