“A moment that could change my life”: Federal Council candidate Beat Jans (59) wants to give something back

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Basel government councilor Beat Jans is running for election to the Federal Council.
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Leah HartmannPolitics Editor

Beat Jans (59) enters the office in Basel’s city hall with a bag of chestnuts in his hand. “I specially took a large portion, so there was enough for everyone,” he says – and says goodbye to his wife Tracy, with whom he spent the lunch break, with a kiss.

The couple doesn’t see each other much these days. In addition to the numerous interviews, the SP candidate for the Federal Council is preparing for the hearings with the other factions, which are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. “It is a moment that could change my life,” says Jans as he picks a chestnut from the shell. The district president of Basel-Stadt seems relaxed, but his restless hands betray his nervousness.

There is so little missing – and so much

There is so little missing for the election of the Federal Council. But so much at the same time. Jans knows: every word he says is now put on the golden scales. And nothing in politics is more unpredictable than the outcome of the Federal Council elections. With his government experience and as a city resident, Jans may be the most obvious choice on paper, but the Herzog trauma has taught not only him, but all of Basel, to be cautious. After the completely surprising non-election of the State Council, we certainly do not want to rejoice too early this time.

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The fact that Jans’ appointment does not have the same grip on the canton of Basel-Stadt as that of Eva Herzog a year ago also has to do with Jans himself. Politicians remember the “sometimes poisonous voices” he had in the Grand Council of Basel and later as a national councilor. . He, the environmental and energy politician, especially alienated the bourgeois farmers’ lobby in Bern.

Give something back to the population

Jans himself does not like to speculate about his chances. Why does he actually want to become a federal councilor? “I feel the need to give something back to the people of this country,” he says. Because he owes a lot to him.

He also talks about his career. The son of a saleswoman and a metal worker was once able to study environmental sciences at ETH thanks to scholarships. After graduating from high school, he first completed an internship as a farmer.

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Mr Jans, how did this career choice come about?
Defeat Jans: After high school I had a lot of energy and didn’t feel like going back to school. I wanted to get out and do real work. The farmer was exactly what you needed. My parents both grew up on a farm and I have always had a connection with agriculture.

Did you like the work?
Yes really. When I was teaching, I had a contract for 66 hours a week and often worked longer hours. It was difficult, but I enjoyed it. If I had had a partner at the time who also wanted to be a farmer, I might have tried to become a tenant.

You weren’t interested in politics then. When did that change?
The key for me was the time in Haiti and Paraguay. I was there in my early twenties and worked for the aid organization Helvetas. In Haiti I experienced what it means to live under a dictatorship. I still remember my friend Raoul, a local. One day he was summoned by the military junta because he had voted for the ‘wrong’ candidate in the elections. I rode him to the barracks on my motorcycle and felt his whole body shaking.

How did he fare?
Fortunately, he was released after five days. But he was tortured and severely intimidated. Then I realized how incredibly valuable democracy is in Switzerland. We are allowed to have a say, we have the rule of law. We have to defend that.

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His mother fainted

Jans only entered politics about ten years later, at the age of 34. But then it happened quickly. Two years later he was chairman of the Basel SP, the following year he was a grand councilor and in 2010 Jans was elected a member of the National Council. “When I was sworn in, my mother fainted from excitement,” says Jans.

She will not be there on December 13 when her son – perhaps – becomes the next SP councilor. It would be too much excitement. But what she told him was: “Keep your feet on the ground and take care of your family!”

This is very important to Jans. The same year that his political career began with his election as canton president, he met his future wife Tracy during a surfing holiday in Hawaii. The American works as an epidemiologist at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Basel. The two have two daughters aged 15 and 18. Also a permanent member of the family: dog Jua.

He sets the pace

Jua is Swahili and means sunshine. That suits Jans, the radiant man, as he likes to be called. Jans is seen as open, someone who approaches people and listens to them. Moreover, politician Jans is straightforward, combative and modest at the same time, says Sibylle Schürch (55). She once sat with Jans in the presidium of the Basel SP and is now not only a good friend, but also his campaign advisor. From her point of view, his hobby of drumming is emblematic of what drives him: “He sets the pace, but stays in the background and lets others have the big time.”

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He once cleaned the school building and loves cherry chocolate

Blick: Where is your house?
Defeat Jans: Where my wife and my family are. This is currently the Matthäuskwartier in Kleinbasel.

Where and when do your best ideas come to you?
By bike, jogging and swimming in the Rhine.

What career ambitions did you have as a child?
Farmer.

How did you earn your first money?
During the holidays I cleaned the school building.

What household chores do you do?
Cooking, cleaning the kitchen, recycling, fixing things, walking the dog. And when my wife is traveling, I do everything.

What do you often fail at?
On the mobile phone! That distracts me. That’s why I prefer not to have him near me when I’m at work. But then I always miss a lot of calls.

Do you have a secret vice?
Cherry chocolate. I hid them at home.

What’s your favorite food?
Spaetzli with lentils. My mother is Swabian and she always cooked this dish. When I prepare it, I never get it right.

Blick: Where is your house?
Defeat Jans: Where my wife and my family are. This is currently the Matthäuskwartier in Kleinbasel.

Where and when do your best ideas come to you?
By bike, jogging and swimming in the Rhine.

What career ambitions did you have as a child?
Farmer.

How did you earn your first money?
During the holidays I cleaned the school building.

What household chores do you do?
Cooking, cleaning the kitchen, recycling, fixing things, walking the dog. And when my wife is traveling, I do everything.

What do you often fail at?
On the mobile phone! That distracts me. That’s why I prefer not to have him near me when I’m at work. But then I always miss a lot of calls.

Do you have a secret vice?
Cherry chocolate. I hid them at home.

What’s your favorite food?
Spaetzli with lentils. My mother is Swabian and she always cooked this dish. When I prepare it, I never get it right.

Not everyone in Basel sees it that way. Some people have not yet digested the election campaign for the government councils three years ago. Even before he was elected, Jans was already planning to expand his power. He campaigned for climate protection – one of his core issues – to now fall under the responsibility of the presidential department, which was his focus. Jans should get what he wanted in the end.

Jans cannot make any special requests this time. If elected, the Basel resident will almost certainly take over the Interior Department from Alain Berset (51). And therefore be responsible for issues such as pension provision or health care policy, which he has hardly been involved in politically until now. No problem, says Jans. “I would have to learn the ropes, and I would like to do that.”

After all, the former farmer’s apprentice already has 66-hour weeks. Working days may soon become even longer.

Source:Blick

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Livingstone

Livingstone

I am Liam Livingstone and I work in a news website. My main job is to write articles for the 24 Instant News. My specialty is covering politics and current affairs, which I'm passionate about. I have worked in this field for more than 5 years now and it's been an amazing journey. With each passing day, my knowledge increases as well as my experience of the world we live in today.

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