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People's Party president wants a single candidate to succeed Ogi

The president of the right-wing People's Party, Ueli Maurer, said on Saturday that he wants just one candidate to be put forward to succeed the party cabinet minister and Swiss president, Adolf Ogi, when he retires at the end of the year.

In an interview with the "Neue Luzerner Zeitung", Maurer said that only one person from the party should be nominated to fill the vacant seat in the cabinet. After Ogi announced he was stepping down after 13 years in government, several politicians called for the People's Party to put forward two candidates.

At present, the party is split between the Zurich wing, which represents the more radical right members of the party, and the Berne wing, which is more conservative and centrist. Maurer stated that any successor must represent the dominant party line.

Maurer said the party would feel no obligation to put forward a moderate candidate. He stressed that the party wishes to undertake governmental responsibilities, "but not at any price".

Maurer said Ogi's views no longer coincided with those of the party, and that the president did not fit the profile of a People's Party candidate. Ogi's pro-European Union stance now clashes with the party line which is opposed to Swiss EU accession.

Switzerland's other governing parties have criticised the People's Party for, they say, acting like a member of the opposition while remaining in government.

Meanwhile, in an interview with the Swiss newspaper, "Der Bund," on Saturday, Ogi, said he has declined an offer to become the head of the Swiss Olympic Federation after he leaves office. He also said he plans to step out of the political limelight.

Less than three days after he announced his resignation, Ogi told the Swiss newspaper, "Der Bund," that his duties as president prevented him from taking over for the outgoing head of the Swiss Olympic Association, René Burkhalter.

When asked about the future of the Swiss People's Party, Ogi told "Der Bund" that he is closing a chapter in his life and does not plan to play a major political role in the party's future. He added that it was important to him to finish his party work on a positive note.

swissinfo with agencies



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