Live and act
A mechanic by profession, Jean Riesen attended community college courses in his hometown. From 1962 to 1972 he was Central Secretary of the SP Switzerland and correspondent for the daily newspaper La Sentinelle. From 1963 to 1971 he organized, in particular, election campaigns at the national level. Although he lived in Flamatt , he represented the constituency of the city of Freiburg in the Grand Council (1966–1971), in which he presided over the SP parliamentary group during the entire legislature. He offended the old social democratic guard when he set up an advertising committee to counterbalance the central board of the canton party; In his view, the latter was unable to wage the political struggle of a party that was on the rise (10 Grand Councilors in 1961, 21 in 1966 and 29 in 1971).
In 1967 he beat the previous National Councilor, Charles Strebel, and took his place in the Great Chamber , where he sat for 20 years. In 1972/73 he chaired the auditor and in 1981/82 the finance committee. From 1979 he was a member of the National Council Office, from 1983 to 1987 a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe . In this context he went on a mission to help missing people and refugees in Cyprus. He reported on his political activities in Friborg-Contact (free weekly paper, which has since been discontinued) and in Travail. He succeeded in establishing large networks that opened the doors of the federal administration for him.
Since he had a certain idea of Switzerland in mind, he fought arms exports in the National Council . With regard to Biafra (secessionist province of Nigeria), he declared in 1968: “The Swiss citizen cannot tolerate a brutally horrific reality. He cannot believe that Switzerland, the cradle of the Red Cross , could help keep going and prolong a murderous conflict in which people kill other people of the same skin color out of profit-seeking. There is an abyss between the arms delivery to Nigeria and the appeals to the generosity of the Swiss people to help Biafra. " His last attempt was to export the Pilatus PC-7 . He chaired a commission that had to examine the need for a sales tax on energy sources, a project that was abandoned in 1996.
In February 1966 he ran for a replacement election for the State Council and received a quarter of the vote. He was narrowly beaten in the December general election. "The television did him the invaluable service of making him known to the people of Friborg, and according to the reactions gathered after the broadcast, he enjoyed the sympathy of the audience", commented the Gazette de Lausanne. In 1971 he was elected to the State Council. At the head of the building department, he campaigned for the construction of the A12 national road . Spatial planning also fell into his department. In the absence of a law, he had to implement the urgent federal decrees. He had to decide on subsidies, which concerned the civil defense areas, the maintenance of the state buildings, the operation of the gravel pits and the protection of cultural property. Although urged to withdraw in 1976 after a disappointing first ballot marked by the resurgence of the Liberals, he took part in the second ballot and was beaten. Jean Riesen was the only councilor of state who came from the working class.
After leaving the government, he was a member of the commission headed by National Councilor Walter Biel , which had to review the Swiss national road network (1979–1982). In addition, he was President of the Switzerland-Israel Association and went on a difficult mission to Moscow to alleviate the grave fate of the Jews in the USSR . He was also honorary president of the Union romande des amis de la nature.
Since the Social Democratic Party of Wünnewil-Flamatt had difficulties filling a list, he stood for the 1986 municipal elections. Although he was not elected to the executive, he was elected to the General Council.
On September 12, 1987, Jean Riesen died in Bern at the age of 67. He loved to receive his friends in Flamatt, including Bishop Pierre Mamie and Corps Commander Pierre Hirschy : Neuchâtel people who “had achieved something” outside their canton, as he jokingly remarked.
“Outwardly he wasn't a clever man. A rhinoceros? From this he had the daredevil and the apparently insensitive armor. In reality, however, Jean Riesen was characterized by his political subtlety », wrote the newspaper La Gruyère in its obituary.
- Georges Andrey , Hubertus von Gemmingen (translation): The Freiburg State Council: 1848–2011; History, organization, members . Ed .: John Clerc, Jean-Pierre Dorand, Nicholas Gex. Paulus, Freiburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-7228-0815-4 .
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||Swiss politician and State Councilor for the Canton of Friborg|
|DATE OF BIRTH||July 13, 1920|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||La Chaux-de-Fonds|
|DATE OF DEATH||September 12, 1987|
|Place of death||Bern|