Swiss president to leave gov’t: expected to announce it today

Calmy-Rey, fifth from left in front row, meeting with the foreign press association committee in May 2011, has headed Swiss foreign affairs since 2003 (GL editor Ellen Wallace, 3rd from left)

BERN, SWITZERLAND – The Swiss president for 2011 and long-time foreign affairs minister, Micheline Calmy-Rey, is expected to tell the Federal Council today that she is stepping down from the government. The regular meeting of the council this morning will be followed by a news conference.

Calmy-Rey, 66, is in her second term as president, a one-year post that rotates among the seven members of the Federal Council. The French-speaking Socialist from Geneva joined the council in 2002 and has headed the foreign affairs department since 2003. Her departure, to be announced before the October parliamentary elections that are held every four years, will require a cabinet shuffle at a time when Switzerland’s relations with the US are taut over banking secrecy but are generally in better shape with the country’s European neighbours than they have been in recent years.

She was heavily involved in Geneva politics before taking up her posts in Ber; the president was born in Sion, canton Valais.

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