Micheline Calmy-Rey comes with a proven pedigree after a successful spell as finance chief in canton Geneva.
The local minister was the favourite to succeed Dreifuss.
Calmy-Rey has been in charge of Geneva's finances since 1997. Her cool demeanour and often pugnacious and aggressive manner have earned her the nickname, "Cruella".
A native of canton Valais, Calmy-Rey studied in Geneva and earned a degree from the Graduate Institute of International Studies.
The current president of the Geneva government then went on to run a small company for 20 years. Calmy-Rey is 57 and is married with two children.
From 1981 to 1997, she was a member of Geneva's cantonal parliament before moving on to the House of Representatives. While presiding over the cantonal finances, she has succeeded in balancing the accounts.
Calmy-Rey restructured her department, making it more efficient. In 2001, she was resoundingly re-elected to her post.