You have to give Switzerland its due. It took its time giving women the vote – they were some of the last in Europe to be enfranchised – but it is now up there with Norway, Finland and Spain in having a majority female Cabinet. No matter that Switzerland is a byword for small government, with a ministerial team of only seven, the election of Simonetta Sommaruga tipped the balance. Four to three, the women rule. Less than a year after Switzerland voted to ban new minarets on mosques, Ms Sommaruga, a popular Social Democrat, used her acceptance speech to plead for tolerance.
Which prompts two thoughts. How different would today's politics look if we had a majority female Cabinet here in Britain? Could it be, for instance, that "cuts", ever larger and deeper, are just another expression of machismo, something that would be quite alien to a Cabinet of women? At the very least we suspect the bill for official cars would be lower. It should also to be noted that, while women are now reasonably represented in Swiss politics, in Swiss business it is quite another story. Women may have achieved a ministerial majority, but how epoch-making is that, if the real power in the land resides somewhere else?