Change Edition

Trump just one more visitor for Davos in annual 'cabaret'

Trump just one more visitor for Davos in annual 'cabaret'

by Bloomberg 2 min. 11.01.2018 From our online archive
For the citizens of Davos, Donald Trump is just one more VIP at the World Economic Forum
The World Economic Forum in Davos (AFP)

The residents and holidaymakers at the Swiss mountain town see the US president – who previously railed against the type of elites that traditionally attend the event -- as another visitor at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting. Even if Trump weren’t coming, the town would still be going into security lockdown, rerouting local bus lines and seeing bars and hotels taken over by investment banks and global corporations.

While a group in Zurich, some 145km away, has launched a petition to stop Trump’s attendance, people in the town itself say the presence the man known for his fiery rhetoric and late-night barrages on Twitter is just as welcome as anyone else.

"He’s been elected, you can’t just ignore him," said Jutta Schneidereit, speaking in the town on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after the White House said Trump would spread his "America First" agenda at the gathering.

But the 65 year-old retired lawyer from Germany – who’s been taking holidays in Davos for 35 years – also acknowledged his presence will make for an interesting meeting with, possibly, a mixture a tension and glitz.

"Other government officials will have to accept him with gritted teeth," she said, adding that Trump will give this year’s forum "a certain cabaret effect."

A view over Davos, Switzerland (AFP)
A view over Davos, Switzerland (AFP)

Forum for dialogue

Speaking to people around the town two weeks before the WEF starts – with the slogan "Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World" – similar views emerged from most.

"He’s a business man, so he belongs at the event," said Beatrice Camastral, 53, who works in a local store. "His manner is provocative, and that’s a bit tricky."

The administration of the town of 12,600 people in eastern Switzerland says Trump, whose inauguration a year ago was met with protests around the US, will be welcome, as are all high-profile guests.

"Davos wants to be a platform for fostering dialogue – the spirit of coming together even if there are differences to try to find a common solution," said Michael Straub, Davos’s first secretary.

In previous years, the WEF has met with anti-capitalist protests, though a wide security ring has kept demonstrators far away from the conference center. For 23-year-old carpenter Marcel Wegmann, fighting his presence isn’t a sensible approach.

"Protesting would be a joke," he said, sitting in a cafe with a friend. "He’s president, full stop. And it wouldn’t work, Trump doesn’t care, you’ve seen that."

While the US President shouldn’t have problems finding Diet Coke, his beverage of choice, in the town, there’s no local McDonald’s outlet. The closest is 58km away in the region’s municipal capital.

Not to worry, said Josef Baggenstos, a 75-year-old Swiss pensioner speaking on Davos’s main street. "He’ll be in Chur quickly."