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Second time around Leuthard elected Swiss president for 2017

Leuthard after her election on Wednesday

Leuthard after her election on Wednesday

(Reuters)

Doris Leuthard has been elected to the Swiss presidency for 2017, a position that rotates among the seven cabinet members. This is her second turn as president since being named to the cabinet in 2006. 

Leuthard was elected to the presidency on Wednesday with 188 votes from parliament. Last year, her predecessor Johann Schneider-Ammann was elected with 136 votes. Leuthard will take over the post from Schneider-Ammann on January 1, 2017 with Health Minister Alain Berset as her vice president.

The Swiss presidency is held by a different member of the seven-person cabinet every calendar year. The choice is based on seniority in the government, which means that a minister becomes president at least once every seven years.

While the presidential election is traditionally a foregone conclusion, some parliamentarians express their displeasure with a candidate by casting a protest vote, leading to less impressive results. 

As minister for energy and transport from the centre-right Christian Democratic Party, Leuthard has had a busy year with voters weighing in on multiple initiatives related to her policies: the Gotthard road tunnel, the so-called “milk cow initiative” on road funding, privatising public services, government intervention for sustainable resources and an end to nuclear power. All of those decisions ultimately went her way.

Leuthard was also behind the new Gotthard tunnel project, celebrated with great fanfare in June and set to open to rail traffic next week. 

However, she has also had her share of setbacks in recent years, with one initiative on more expensive motorway passes and another on the ownership of second homes failing at the ballot box despite her support for them. 

Leuthard served as a parliamentarian from canton Aargau between 1999 and 2006. She has also worked as a lawyer, having studied law at the University of Zurich. 

As is traditional, Leuthard’s presidency will be celebrated with a reception following Wednesday’s parliamentary session as well as a formal celebration in her home canton of Aargau on a later date.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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