Two women and three men from the Radical Party have announced their candidacy to replace Kaspar Villiger, who has been a cabinet minister for 14 years.This content was published on October 29, 2003 - 14:10
Villiger – who heads the finance ministry – is to step down at the end of the year.
Christine Beerli, 50, is from canton Bern and has been a member of the Senate for the past 12 years.
Beerli – who was the first politician to enter the race – is on the left of her party.
Trained as a lawyer, she is director of a college for engineering and architecture in Biel, where she also lives.
Beerli sits on government commissions for social security and health as well as science and education.
Christine Egerszegi, 55, is a member of the House of Representatives for canton Aargau.
Egerszegi – a former French teacher – has made a name for herself over the past few years for her contributions to social, education and health policy.
Coming from Aargau could be an advantage for Egerszegi as the canton has not been represented in government for decades.
Hans-Rudolf Merz, 61, is a senator representing canton Appenzell Outer Rhodes.
Merz – who currently presides over the Senate finance commission – is also a member of Switzerland’s security and foreign policy commissions.
Merz says he agrees with the right-wing politician, Christoph Blocher, on a number of issues, but that he does not consider himself a hardliner when it comes to economic and social policies.
Merz – the latest to join the race - announced his candidacy on Tuesday.
Fulvio Pelli, 52, is a lawyer and a member of the House of Representatives for canton Ticino.
In parliamentary elections earlier this month, Pelli gained wide support in Ticino, and was widely credited for earning the Radicals an extra seat in the House of Representatives.
Pelli – who sits on a commission for economic affairs and taxes - is the leader of the Radical party grouping in the Swiss parliament.
If elected, he would be the first cabinet member from the Italian part of Switzerland since 1999.
Franz Steinegger, 60, is from canton Uri and has been a member of the House of Representatives for 23 years.
For more than ten years, Steinegger, a lawyer by trade, was president of the Radical party.
He has a reputation for keeping his cool during crises, earning him the nickname “Catastrophe Franz”.
Steinegger – who is considered the favourite by the Swiss press - was president of Switzerland’s national exhibition, Expo.02.
October 31 is the deadline for candidates to enter the race.
The new cabinet member will be appointed on December 10, 2003.
Most cabinet members stay in office for almost ten years.
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