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117th cabinet minister The lightning election of Ignazio Cassis

Every election of a Swiss cabinet minister actually begins in the bars of Bern – the night before. This is where surprise candidates are chosen in backroom deals. This year, however, the election of Iganzio Cassis was not only surprise-free but also extremely quick. (Photos: Keystone)

Traditionally politicians and journalists meet on the eve of a cabinet election in the foyer of the palatial Bellevue Palace hotel, right next to parliament. This is where coalitions are discussed and final interviews are given – and from time to time a surprise candidate is chosen. 

But not on Wednesday. Cassis was quickly chosen as the 117th cabinet minister in two rounds, having just failed to get an overall majority in the first round. It's the first time Italian-speaking canton Ticino has been represented in the cabinet since 1999. 

The centre-right Radical Party had put forward three official candidates to replace Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, who is stepping down at the end of October. Cassis held off a challenge from French speakers Pierre Maudet, from Geneva, and Isabelle Moret from canton Vaud.

New face Cassis chosen as Switzerland’s new cabinet minister

Swiss parliament has elected Ignazio Cassis, a member of the Italian-speaking minority, to the seven-member government. 

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