Hans Peter Tschudi

Hans Peter Tschudi (1913-2002) headed the Federal Department of Home Affairs as federal councillor from 1959 to 1973. In this role, he advocated the expansion of social security during the economic boom years. He was responsible for the introduction supplementary benefits to the AHV and the adjustment of pensions to wage and price trends, as well as for enshrining the three-pillar doctrine in the federal constitution.

Tschudi came from a family of teachers and grew up in Basel. After studying law and gaining his doctorate at the University of Basel, he worked as at the cantonal employment office and as head of the trade inspectorate for the city of Basel. Following post-doctoral qualification, he became professor of labour law at the University of Basel in 1952. In 1936, Tschudi joined the Social Democratic Party and the public-sector union VPOD in 1943. He was elected to the Basel City cantonal parliament in 1944; he was subsequently elected to the cantonal executive in 1953, and to the Council of States in 1956. In his position as head of the cantonal Department of Home Affairs, Tschudi initiated a range of bills including the Basel Disability Welfare Act. In 1959, the Federal Assembly appointed Tschudi as well as social democrat Willy Spühler and Catholic conservatives Jean Bourgknecht and Ludwig von Moos to the Federal Council. At that time, the Federal Council composed itself according to the ‘Zauberformel’ (magic formula) for the first time; this formula attributed two executive seats to the Social Democratic Party. At the time of his election, Tschudi was already considered a pragmatic social democrat committed to the principle of collegiality and political concordance. Tschudi took over the Federal Department of Home Affairs, where he was soon known for his forward moving governance, dubbed ‘Tschudi tempo’ (Tschudi pace). Besides social and health policy, his department responsibilities included the construction of national motorways, education, research and culture policy, as well as environmental protection – a relatively new field of policy back then. During Tschudi’s tenure, which coincided with continuous economic growth and a general expansion of state activity, his department’s budget (including social expenses) rose from half a billion to around six billion francs. Tschudi resigned from the Federal Council in 1973. He lectured at the Universities of Basel and Bern until the 1980s and served as president of Pro Senectute and as member of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The expansion of social security was one of Tschudi’s priorities during his time in office. Tschudi distinguished himself as a politician who stood for social policy expansion based on economic prosperity. He was responsible for several AHV revisions that adjusted pensions to price and wage indexes and expanded the scope of individual benefits. The eighth AHV revision (1972) thus introduced substantial pension increases. Tschudi also pushed through the introduction of supplementary benefits (EL, 1965) and – unlike his party – was from the very beginning a convinced advocate of the three pillar model and mandatory affiliation to occupational provision (1972). His tenure therefore not only reflected the expansion of the AHV, but also the supplementation (and limitation) of the first pillar (AHV) by means of the second and third pillars (occupational pension funds and voluntary retirement saving). In contrast, his attempt to introduce a limited obligation for health insurance (1974), and thereby to further additional socio-political initiatives from the left, remained unsuccessful. His effort to increase the scope of accident insurance was more successful in the medium term, but it only came into fruition after the end of his tenure (1984).

Literatur / Bibliographie / Bibliografia / References: Tschudi Hans Peter (1993), Im Dienste des Sozialstaates. Politische Erinnerungen, Basel; Altermatt Urs (1991), Die Schweizer Bundesräte. Ein biographisches Lexikon, Zürich.