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Press review Stories making the Swiss Sunday papers

A Federal Council selfie, taken by Alain Berset, with (from left) Ueli Maurer, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, Doris Leuthard, Didier Burkhalter, Simonetta Sommaruga and Johann Schneider-Ammann, July 3, 2014.

(Alain Berset via Twitter)

Questions about who will succeed outgoing Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, when the Swiss Federal Railways will take delivery of new trains and how to reduce pesticides in drinking water are among the top stories making the headlines in Swiss papers this weekend.

A survey published on Sunday in Swiss newspaper SonntagsBlick finds about two-thirds of the respondents would prefer having a woman replace Burkhalter when he steps down from the cabinet at the end of October – and would like to see another minister, Johann Schneider-Ammann, resign from the cabinet. Of the 1,100 people surveyed across Switzerland, 63% would like to see a woman fill Burkhalter’s position in the seven-member cabinet and 69% are disenchanted with Schneider-Ammann, the economics minister.

When Burkhalter departs, parliament will choose a replacement from among the other cabinet members, who each take turns as president for a year. It is possible there will then be a reshuffle of portfolios – the minister who has been in the cabinet the longest (Doris Leuthard, the current president) gets first pick.

Burkhalter has been a member of the cabinet since 2009. His party, the Radicals, gets to nominate one or more candidates to be his successor, but parliament can choose anyone it wants.

Schneider-Ammann, who held the presidency last year, was elected to the Swiss cabinet in 2010. He also presided over Swissmem, the Swiss mechanical and electrical engineering association.

Burkhalter and Schneider-Ammann both are members of the centre-right Radical Party, one of the biggest in parliament and traditionally aligned with business, and both have promoted Switzerland’s cooperation with the European Union and broader openness within Europe and the world.

Vaccines

Switzerland is suffering from a shortage of certain vaccines, causing some doctors to use alternatives for conditions such as diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis and pertussis. At times, shortages occur around the world due to supply and demand, regulatory hurdles and other factors.

Flexibility is required in Swiss clinics and hospitals, says Daniel Desgrandchamps, pediatrician and scientific secretary at the Federal Immunization Commission.

"For the first time in my long career as a vaccine expert, because of delivery problems, I am unable to provide valid alternatives for certain preventive measures to requests from medical colleagues," he said.

The Federal Office for Economic Assistance reported last week that there are shortages of vaccines that protect children against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. The situation will be partially remedied in autumn.

Some parliamentarians, such as Bea Heim, view it as a concerning situation particularly for children and their parents. Doctors can ask manufacturers or wholesalers if some doses are still available.

"The political mills are grinding slowly, but it is about the protection of our children," she said

Pension funds

Digitization and the strong Swiss franc are challenging Swiss industry. So much so that the president of Swissmem, representing more than 1,000 Swiss companies, is calling for more pension funds to invest in the industry.

More than half of Swiss companies in the machinery, electrical equipment and metals sector suffered a decline in profit in 2016, said Hans Hess, chairman of Swissmem.

He said there is a lot of money in Switzerland that could be made available to companies, and often what’s stopping that is the level of risk-taking that people are comfortable with is too low. He also said a dual adult education system should be developed.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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