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Cabinet chaos follows minister resignations

Leading politicians have called for the election of the successors to cabinet ministers Moritz Leuenberger and Hans-Rudolf Merz to take place at the same time.

This content was published on August 8, 2010 - 13:47

Leuenberger, who holds the transport, communications, energy and environment portfolios, has come in for the harshest criticism for waiting until the end of the year to leave his post.

Party leaders are demanding that he already step down in October – the same time as outgoing Finance Minister Merz, who announced his resignation on Friday.

The president of the centre-right Christian Democrats, Christophe Darbellay, said in an interview with various German language newspapers on Sunday that Leuenberger’s reasons for waiting until December were a “joke”.

When he announced one month ago that he would step down from cabinet after 15 years, Leuenberger said he first wanted to bring to a symbolic end two major projects in his ministry: The digging of the Gotthard Base Tunnel - the world’s longest rail tunnel, and attend an international climate summit in Cancún.

The president of the centre-right Radicals, Fulvio Pelli, spoke in the same vein as Darbellay in an interview with the NZZ am Sonnntag newspaper.

Even the head of the parliamentary faction of Leuenberger’s own centre-left Social Democrats, Ursula Wyss, said the party may choose to discuss the issue with the long-serving minister.

Allowing parliament to vote for two new cabinet ministers at the same time would enable parties a certain amount of room for horse trading.

The main political parties are entitled to a proportional share of the seats in the seven-strong cabinet according to an informal agreement reached in 1959.

This deal, known as the Magic Formula, ensures access to government powers for the four main parties without too much controversy.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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