President Ruth Dreifuss, populist challenger Christoph Blocher and Adolf Ogi will likely be the key players in Wednesday's re-election of the seven Swiss cabinet ministers.
President Ruth Dreifuss, populist challenger Christoph Blocher and Defence Minister Adolf Ogi will likely be the key players in Wednesday's re-election of the seven Swiss cabinet ministers.
Ruth Dreifuss: Social Democrat, Interior Minister and this year’s President. Her attempts to increase scope of welfare state, involving greater spending, have made her the target of attacks from many centre-right and right-wing politicians. In particular, her proposals to change health insurance and pension rights recently fell foul of the centre-right majority in cabinet. At the last cabinet re-election procedure in 1995, she only scraped in with a narrow majority. She was elected as a representative for canton Geneva, meaning she stands for the French-speaking Swiss.
Christoph Blocher: Conservative populist, the leading light in the right-wing Swiss People’s Party. The party’s successes in the October 24 parliamentary elections led Blocher to claim a second seat in the seven-member cabinet. He threw the current four-party system into doubt by announcing his aim was to eject Dreifuss and therefore the Social Democrats from government. Blocher leads the Zürich-based conservative wing of the party. Blocher’s strength lies at grass roots level, outside cabinet, leading to speculation he does not really want a seat in the government.
Adolf Ogi: Defence Minister, is the only representative of the Swiss People’s Party in the cabinet. He finds himself on the “liberal“ wing of the People’s Party. He and his Bernese section are often in conflict with Blocher on such issues as Switzerland’s political isolation. But Blocher has no interest in removing him. Ogi, from the Bernese Oberland, is a long-serving cabinet member who has made no secret of the fact he may retire after serving as next year’s President.
From staff member Ron Popper.
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