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Ministers gain trust while rightwing party slips

More voters have faith in the government now than they did a few months ago, while support for the rightwing Swiss People's Party appears to be slipping.

A survey released on Sunday and conducted on behalf of a Zurich-based newspaper asked 1,231 eligible voters between October and early February whether they wished the country's ministers and politicians had more influence.

For 78 per cent of the respondents the answer was "yes" for Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz, who also holds the rotating presidency. That is up 21 percentage points from four months ago, the biggest increase among the seven-member cabinet.

Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf's standing grew 11 percentage points to 76 per cent. Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey was up nine points to 67 per cent.

Moritz Leuenberger, who holds the environment, transport, energy and communications portfolios, increased his standing seven points to 60 per cent. Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin was up 13 points to 46 per cent. Defence Minister Ueli Maurer, who is new to the cabinet, stood at 55 per cent.

Only Doris Leuthard's standing slipped, but the economics minister still enjoyed the second-highest confidence rating at 77 per cent, down one point from October.

The People's Party, the country's largest, seems to be losing voter confidence, the survey found. Its standing slipped to 22.8 per cent, down six points and the worst rating since 1999. Confidence in other parties appeared to be relatively stable.

The survey provides a snapshot of how the division of power among the Swiss government might look were elections to be held today.

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