Right weakened, but same overall mix for Swiss gov’t

Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, finance minister, will be president for 2012

Alain Berset, Socialist, replaces Calmy-Rey

Micheline Calmy-Rey, Swiss president, says her farewells to parliament 14 December

BERN, SWITZERLAND – Alain Berset, the Swiss senate’s youngest member at age 31, was elected easily with 126 votes in a second round of voting, to Switzerland’s government.

The election of the Socialist from Fribourg completes the election of the 7-member government. He replaces Micheline Calmy-Rey, also a Socialist.

The two UDC candidates who were presented for several of the seven slots, failed to come close to majorities.

The party’s weak showing, on the heels of its parliamentary losses in October, reinforces the sense there is a parliamentary shift towards the centre.

The government now comprises one right-wing party member, three from the centre-right, one centre and two left.

New government member Alain Berset, Socialist, replaces Micheline Calmy-Rey, who is retiring (©2011 Reuters/Keystone/pool)

Berset is the only new member, with the others re-elected.

Parliament elects a chancellor, president and vice-president following the election of the government; chancellor Corina Casanova remains in her post with 186 votes out of 206.

Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, finance minister, was elected president for 2012, with 174 votes out of 211 for the one-year post that rotates among Federal Council members.

Those watching US-Swiss talks over US investigations into Swiss banks will be relieved, for the lack of a change at the top in Switzerland will smooth the way for the discussions to be concluded. Widmer-Schlumpf has said recently, in her role as finance minister, that she is keen to see a solution found quickly.

The Swiss government’s seven members and their parties, in order of Wednesday’s voting:

Doris Leuthard, PDC (Christian Democrat), centre
Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf , PBD, centre right
Ueli Maurer, UDC (People’s Party), right
Didier Burkhalter,  PBD, centre right
Simonetta Somaruga, PS (Socialist), left
Johann Schneider-Ammann, PLR, centre right
Alain Berset, PS (Socialist) , left

Swiss parliament voting for new federal council 14 December 2011 (©2011 Reuters/Keystone/pool)

The next complete re-election is in December 2015.

Useful links:

Wikipedia on Swiss political parties and their positions

Analysis of the Federal Council election in English, swissinfo

Details of the votes, Swiss Parliament (Fr)

Background on Swiss political system from ch.ch