Adolf Deucher

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Adolf Deucher (approx. 1885)

Adolf Karl Wilhelm Deucher (born February 15, 1831 in Wipkingen ; † July 10, 1912 in Bern ; legal resident in Steckborn ) was a Swiss doctor and politician ( FDP ). From 1858 to 1872 he was a member of the Grand Council of the Canton of Thurgau and played a key role in the revision of the cantonal constitution. In 1869 he was elected to the National Council, but lost his mandate again after four years because he had exposed himself too much in the Kulturkampf and lost the support of the rural Catholic population of Thurgau. In 1879 he moved into the Thurgau government council and again into the national council. Deucher's election to the Federal Council followed in 1883 , to which he belonged until his death. His 29-year term in office is the second longest of all Federal Councilors. As minister of economics, he had a decisive influence on Swiss social legislation at the turn of the century and was particularly committed to protecting workers. He was Federal President four times (1886, 1897, 1903 and 1909).


Study and job

The oldest child of the doctor Guntram Deucher and Katharina Huber was born in Wipkingen , which is now a district of Zurich . A year later the family moved to Steckborn in the canton of Thurgau , their place of residence . Adolf Deucher attended schools there, later his parents sent him to the grammar school in Fischingen Abbey and to the Lyceum Konstanz . In 1847 he began studying medicine at Heidelberg University . There he developed a radical, liberal attitude that was in complete contrast to the Catholic-conservative family tradition: for many years the Deuchers had represented the interests of the Reichenau monastery on the south bank of the Untersee and opposed any democratic reforms.

Deucher continued his studies in Prague and Vienna and graduated from the University of Zurich with a doctorate in 1851 . He returned to Steckborn, where he worked as an adjunct to the district doctor, opened his own medical practice and began to be politically active. In 1860 he married Paulina Schnebli from Baden . After suffering a defeat in a local political dispute over the construction of a new schoolhouse in 1862, he and his family immediately left their hometown and moved to the canton capital Frauenfeld , where he also served as district doctor and medical councilor. His contemporaries mockingly called him "Doctor Strohfeuer" because of his impulsive demeanor and belligerent behavior.

Cantonal and federal politics

In 1858 Deucher was elected to the Grand Council of the Canton of Thurgau, to which he belonged until 1879 (1871/1872 as Council President). Together with Fridolin Anderwert , he was one of the leaders of the democratic movement in the Grand Council . He was one of the bitterest opponents of Eduard Häberlin , who dominated canton politics almost at will. As a member of the Constitutional Council, Deucher was significantly involved in the revision of the Thurgau cantonal constitution, which aimed directly at the "Häberlin system". The reforms included the popular election of the government council , the establishment of the Thurgauer Kantonalbank and the incompatibility of various offices. With the adoption of the new cantonal constitution by the people in 1869, Häberlin lost its almost unrestricted power.

Deucher ran for the parliamentary elections in 1869 and made it into the National Council in the second ballot . He was immediately involved in the heated argument about the total revision of the Federal Constitution and was one of the most prominent advocates of a centralized state, he also campaigned vehemently for the expansion of popular rights. The first constitutional draft narrowly failed in the referendum of April 19, 1872, whereupon he immediately started work on a new draft as the main initiator. During the Kulturkampf , the Catholic Deucher publicly condemned the politics of the ultramontanes and the “clerical clerical influence” of the “black powers” several times . This radical anti-clerical stance cost him a lot of sympathy in the rather conservative Thurgau. There were also differences within the democratic faction, which is why he resigned as a national councilor in 1873.

Deucher remained politically active in the Grand Council. He also made a name for himself at the national level: at the national conference of supporters of the constitutional revision, which took place in Solothurn on June 15, 1873 , he appeared in front of an audience of 28,000 as the quasi-official spokesman for Eastern Switzerland. When Deucher was asked to run for the Thurgau government council in 1879, he accepted. He made the condition that he had to be represented in the National Council again. Since the Kulturkampf was waning, it was successful in both elections. In the cantonal government he was responsible for health care, education and the churches. In 1882/1883 he was President of the National Council . As president of the commission, he was involved in drafting a law aimed at accelerating the secularization of primary schools and providing for the creation of a school secretariat at federal level, which would have restricted the school sovereignty of the cantons. Opposition politicians called the referendum, the conservative press ridiculed Deucher as the "personal doctor of the school governor". The proposal failed on November 26, 1882 with 77.2% no votes.

After Simeon Bavier's resignation on January 5, 1883, National Council President Deucher was one of the most promising candidates for his successor in the Federal Council , and he received support in particular from the left-wing liberals. The liberal center and the democrats spoke out in favor of a candidate from the Catholic Conservatives in order to dissuade them from their purely opposition role, but ultimately disagreed. Deucher was elected in the first ballot on April 10, 1883, with 95 of 175 valid votes. The Catholic-Conservative Alois Kopp received 76 votes, and another 4 votes. Deucher's success was due to the fact that the Left had unanimously voted for him. The conservative press lamented the result and said that the election of the “man of the extreme left” and an avowed cultural fighter had noticeably changed the weight within the government. Deucher himself accepted the election on April 23 after a two-week reflection period.

Federal Council

During his 29-year tenure, the second longest of all Federal Councilors, Deucher headed five different departments. As a newcomer to the state government, he first had to change departments in quick succession: in 1883 the Justice and Police Department , in 1884 the Postal and Railway Department and in 1885 the Department of the Interior . In 1886 he was Federal President for the first time and took over the management of the Political Department for one year in accordance with the customs of the time . In 1887 he was able to establish himself as Minister of Economics and then headed the Department of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture for almost a quarter of a century , only interrupted by the presidential years of 1897, 1903 and 1909, when he was temporarily again foreign minister.

Deucher moved closer to social democratic positions and made great contributions to the expansion of the welfare state. In 1890 the people adopted a constitutional amendment to introduce health and accident insurance with a three-quarters majority. The implementation of this constitutional mandate, however, proved extremely difficult. Almost ten years later, the people rejected the law introducing compulsory federal health and accident insurance for all employed persons with almost 70%. It was not until 1912 that Deucher managed to enforce accident insurance after renouncing compulsory state health insurance. The federal law on health and accident insurance was adopted with 54.4%, which ultimately led to the foundation of SUVA in 1918 .

Another important concern of Deucher's concern was the protection of workers, for example by restricting women, children and night work. In 1906 he organized the first international workers protection conference in Bern . Here he succeeded in enforcing the international ban on the use of phosphorus in the manufacture of matches , which had been in force in Switzerland since 1898 . He was unable to complete the revision of the now outdated Factory Act of 1877, but the Social Democrats expressly praised him for interpreting the existing legislation in many cases in a worker-friendly manner. Deucher promoted commercial, domestic and agricultural education and created the basis for the introduction of unemployment insurance and collective labor contracts . By concluding new trade agreements, he tied Switzerland more closely to international trade than ever before, which led to a heyday of the export economy. With several new regulations of the customs tariffs he brought about the transition from free trade to a moderate protective tariff policy .

Deucher implemented the first federal agriculture law in 1893. He also promoted agricultural research : under his leadership, the "Federal Agricultural Research Institute" (now the headquarters of the Agroscope research institute ) was established in Bern- Liebefeld between 1896 and 1899, which specializes in agrochemicals and dairy farming . At the beginning of his term of office, still heavily controversial because of his quick-tempered temperament, Deucher became more and more popular over the years and was confirmed in office with ever better results. For his many services, he was granted honorary citizenship of Frauenfeld in 1886 and that of Geneva ten years later . After a short illness, he died in office at the age of 81. He was buried in the Bremgarten cemetery in Bern , and his grave has now been lifted. He was succeeded by Edmund Schulthess .


Web links

Commons : Adolf Deucher  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Engeler: The Federal Council Lexicon. P. 183.
  2. ^ Gudrun Enders: Baptized Steckborner Promenade. Thurgauer Zeitung , July 9, 2012, accessed on April 16, 2019 .
  3. Verena Rothenbühler: Häberlin, Eduard. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland . 2008 .
  4. ^ Anton Deucher: Thurgau politics a hundred years ago. Thurgauer Jahrbuch, accessed on March 25, 2020 .
  5. Engeler: The Federal Council Lexicon. Pp. 183-184.
  6. Engeler: The Federal Council Lexicon. P. 184.
  7. ^ Federal decree on the implementation of Article 27 of the Federal Constitution , result of the vote of November 26, 1882 on
  8. Engeler: The Federal Council Lexicon. Pp. 184-185.
  9. Federal decree regarding the amendment of the Federal Constitution of May 29, 1874 with an addition regarding the legislative law on accident and health insurance , voting result of November 26, 1890 on
  10. Federal law on health and accident insurance including military insurance , voting result of May 20, 1900 on
  11. Federal Law on Health and Accident Insurance , voting results of February 4, 1912 on
  12. a b Engeler: The Federal Council Lexicon. P. 186.
  13. ^ History of the Liebefeld site. Agroscope , accessed on April 16, 2019 .
  14. Engeler: The Federal Council Lexicon. P. 187.
predecessor Office successor
Simeon Bavier Member of the Swiss Federal Council
Edmund Schulthess