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government shake-up Women in the Federal Council – a history

From 1848 to 1984, when the first woman was elected to the Federal Council, the Swiss government was populated exclusively by men. On Wednesday, Viola Amherd and Karin Keller-Sutter became the eighth and ninth female ministers in Swiss history.

Women earned the right to vote in Switzerland in 1971, but the country had to wait another thirteen years before a women entered government, when Elisabeth Kopp became the first, in 1984. 

Rather than opening the floodgates, however, progress has since remained slow: eight more women, including Wednesday's pair, have sat on the cabinet. This is in comparison to the overall figure of 110 male Federal Councillors throughout history.

Grafik Bundesrätinnen
(swissinfo.ch)


The Federal Council in Switzerland is elected by Parliament, who holds a vote every four years, in December. Votes can also be necessary when ministers step down.

This was the case in 2018, when after the stepping down of Doris Leuthard (Christian Democrats) and Johann Schneider-Ammann (Radical-Liberals) two seats on the seven-member executive body became vacant. 

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