Pierre Maudet

Having once dreamed of becoming a Federal Councillor, he now risks finding himself out of a job. It is said that the higher they come, the harder they fall – and this certainly suits the erstwhile strongman of the Geneva Cantonal Council, Pierre Maudet, who has been forced to cede most of his responsibilities in the wake of the Abu Dhabi affair. The scandal centres on a luxury trip in 2015 for the councillor, his family and his chief of staff paid for by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Maudet had claimed that a friend had picked up the tab. What followed was a steady stream of lies, confessions, excuses and new insights into a nebulous system of political financing. Less than a year before the federal elections, meanwhile, The Liberals (FDP) find themselves under pressure due to rivalries between the party’s liberal and radical wings. Pierre Maudet is hanging on, even though he is facing legal action over claims he accepted benefits following an inquiry launched in 2017. How could this master communicator and unflappable army captain, who was re-elected in a first-round ballot in 2018, commit such blunders? The leading theory borrows from Greek tragedy in the form of the concept of hubris, that arrogant sense of superiority among human beings that invariably attracts cruel punishment from the gods.

Stéphane Herzog

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