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Most government parties to stick to "magic formula"

The chances of a major political upset in Switzerland next week appear to be receding, following a series of decisions by the parliamentary groups of the main parties on maintaining the “magic formula“ system of government.

This content was published on December 8, 1999 - 12:21

The chances of a major political upset in Switzerland next week appear to be receding, following a series of decisions by the parliamentary groups of the main parties on maintaining the “magic formula“ system of government.
The parliamentary factions of the four cabinet parties – the Swiss People’s Party led by Ueli Maurer (l-r), the Radicals of Franz Steinegger, Ursula Koch’s Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats of Adalbert Durrer -- met on Tuesday to decide where they stand ahead of next Wednesday’s cabinet elections.

All seven cabinet members are up for re-election but the results of the October 24 parliamentary election had placed the division of seats among the parties in doubt.

Since 1959, when the four-party system came into being, the Social Democrats, Radicals, and Christian Democrats have each held two seats in cabinet, with the People’s Party allocated one.

The Swiss People’s Party, which made the biggest gains in the parliamentary poll and emerged as the second largest party in the House of Representatives, had threatened to torpedo the “magic formula“ four-party system of government, in a bid to win a second seat in the cabinet. The party’s avowed target in next week’s election were the two Social Democrat ministers.

The People’s Party’s chances of success now seem remote, following key decisions on Tuesday by the two centre-right government parties, the Radicals and Christian Democrats.

The parliamentary faction of the Christian Democrats, now the weakest party in the House of Representatives, said they would defend their two cabinet seats and not join in People’s Party efforts to break up the “magic formula“.

The Radicals will also hold true to the four-party system but could envisage fresh faces in the cabinet, according to the head of their parliamentary party, Christine Beerli.

However, she said that some party members might vote to oust Defence Minister Adolf Ogi, the People’s Party’s representative in the cabinet. Ogi is widely regarded as a liberal within the party, which is dominated by right-wing politicians affiliated to the populist Christoph Blocher.

Blocher has said he will stand against Social Democrat cabinet member Ruth Dreifuss next week. But Tuesday’s statements by the Christian Democrats and Radicals mean his dream of creating a centre-right three-party government and driving the Social Democrats into opposition now seem more remote than ever.

The Social Democrats on Tuesday repeated their support for their two cabinet ministers and the four-party system of government.

From staff and wire reports

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