On January 11, 2022, she was elected President of the Greater Schaffhausen City Council with 26 votes. Now, at the end of your mandate, you met the 'Bock' for an interview to take stock of your year as top municipal manager. Nathalie Zumstein (Die Mitte) made substantive politics a priority and tried to promote it during her year in office.
'It's been an exciting year,' says the 69-year-old looking back. 'I also felt that there was a very good relationship between MPs and the goat [Anm. d. Red.: Sitz des Präsidenten oder der Präsidentin]», according to the middle politician. As he said in his inaugural speech nearly a year ago, it was his wish that he bridge the rifts between the various parties. According to her, this also happened, but it remains to be seen whether it was her fault or whether social events and extra-curricular and cross-party exchanges were possible again after the corona pandemic. What Nathalie Zumstein has noted, however, is that there has been some easing of lockdowns and some board members have voted differently from party opinion. 'I was very happy with this, because that's what I wanted, a more factual and less one-sided policy,' says the outgoing city council president.
On the one hand, this could be a reason why the City Council has done less activity this year than last year. On the other hand, it could also be due to the sensitive agenda items and popular emotions that required a lot of room for discussion. 'Sometimes in a 2.5-hour meeting we only dealt with one proposal or one presentation,' says the 69-year-old, citing the city council's presentation meeting for the new indoor swimming pool at KSS Schaffhausen as an example. But he also sees an advantage in this, because a factual talk has taken place.
It all started in 2007
Before Nathalie Zumstein moved to Dallas with her family to work for her husband, she was a research biologist. The route took the family to London, Zurich and Basel, among other places, before finally moving to Schaffhausen. In this way, the natural scientist gained a comprehensive insight into the education system of different countries. 'When I read here in the newspaper that someone was being sought for the city school council, I made myself available and was elected immediately,' says the Basel native. This is how Nathalie Zumstein's political career (then still in the CVP) began in 2007. 'I was on the city school board for ten years and probably would have stayed longer,' she explains. However, her departure from the executive was not due to the false media story surrounding the Alpenblick school affair in 2016, but due to the switch from personal to party elections. 'The important thing was belonging to the party and no longer the person,' underlines the biologist.
Nathalie Zumstein became a member of the city council in 2018 when she replaced the outgoing Theresia Derksen-Studer. The Basel native was immediately elected on the ballot by the parliamentary group. But she didn't know that this was the beginning of the presidency. 'I just slipped into this career,' the MP said. 'But I never thought I'd end up on the dollar.'
Political heart issue: education
Her first meeting as Prime Minister on January 25 proved to be a baptism of fire for Nathalie Zumstein. On the agenda was the City Council's 'New Ebnatring parking space for the public transport company Schaffhausen vbsh'. There have been huge discussions. 'I had to go through almost all possible applications. But that gave me some self-confidence that I could do the new job.'
Acting as city council president was a challenge for Nathalie Zumstein because she doesn't like being in the spotlight and speaking in front of so many people. Looking back, Nathalie Zumstein would say that she tried to be a just and mediating Prime Minister.
When asked which political topic is particularly important to Nathalie Zumstein, she answers very clearly: education. 'It's the most important thing in politics. I always say that an uneducated people can be manipulated. A good education is the basis of our democracy.'
However, Nathalie Zumstein is by no means a full-blooded politician, but likes to be active in educational clubs and organizations such as the Kantiverein or the special school board. When she is asked how she balances politics, family and all of her interests, she says she is happy when she has a lot to do. 'I'm most efficient when I'm challenged.' In private, however, you can also disconnect very well and distance yourself from the political hustle and bustle of Schaffhausen.
More factual policy
What does Nathalie Zumstein want for the future of Schaffhausen? 'Factual politics and less partisan politics,' she replies quite plainly. At the moment she sees no dangers for Munotstadt. 'I am very happy that good finances have been used to invest in recent years.'
His successor is traditionally the first vice president. The elections will take place on January 10. 'Michael Mundt will certainly do well. There's something jovial about him and I'm sure he'll master this position with aplomb,' she adds with a smile. 'The time has come for me to make way for a younger generation and step down into the lower ranks.'