Press hopes for new impetus from Leuthard

The papers are full of speculation about Leuthard's role in the cabinet swissinfo.ch

The election of Doris Leuthard to the government has been widely welcomed by the Swiss press, which says women and the young generation expect a lot from her.

This content was published on June 15, 2006 - 09:18

Editorialists blame her rather mediocre result in the parliamentary ballot on Wednesday on the fact that she was the only candidate, and had taken all the limelight.

The newspaper from Leuthard's home region, the Aargauer Zeitung, is understandably enthusiastic about her election to the Swiss government. It devotes more than ten pages in its Thursday edition to the event.

"Leuthard has it in her to make June 14 not only a great day for canton Aargau, but the whole of Switzerland," the newspaper comments.

Its editorial writer is confident that Christian Democrat Leuthard has the qualities and experience to take on her new task and that she will prove her critics wrong about a perceived lack of resolve and a tendency to turn politics into a marketing event.

The mass-circulation Blick newspaper says Leuthard should get a chance to show what she can achieve - and what she can't.

"With her spontaneous manner and openness Leuthard can awaken an interest in politics in many people," the paper says.

Scepticism

Zurich's Tages-Anzeiger is sceptical about the new minister but admits that she could be an asset to the cabinet because she seeks consensus and is a talented politician, as she has proven for her party over the past two years.

"But that doesn't mean that she will be a successful cabinet minister. Now she will have to take a stand even on sensitive political questions. And she will not be the undisputed number one in the seven-member government, because there are at least two other strong personalities, Pascal Couchepin and Christoph Blocher."

The broadsheet Neue Zürcher Zeitung in its editorial comment focuses on the role of women in Swiss politics, as Wednesday marked the 25th anniversary of the enforcement of the equal opportunities law.

The election of Doris Leuthard was not typical, like those of her predecessors. In her case there was no real gender debate and she seemed to be the obvious candidate, according to the NZZ.

"Her election will go down in history as the most unspectacular election of a woman to the Swiss government so far."

The paper comments that it will only be possible to say in hindsight whether Leuthard's election was a watershed for women in politics given that some of her predecessors in cabinet were under pressure to step down or were not re-elected.

Jealousy

The French-language press points out that many parliamentarians did not vote for Leuthard out of jealousy.

"Parliament doesn't like to see triumphant winners," says the Tribune de Genève, and in the same vein the tabloid Le Matin points the finger at Leuthard's party.

"Parliament wants to show all its power. It doesn't like to be told what to do, especially if there's just one candidate to choose from as was the case of Christian Democrat Doris Leuthard."

For its part the Geneva paper, Le Temps, describes Leuthard's 133 votes – out of 242 – as a warning by parliament.

"She absorbed all the limelight, she was considered as heaven-sent and thrust upon parliament in Soviet-style manner.

Leuthard should not forget that a difficult task awaits her, Le Temps warns.

"As a typical Christian Democrat she promises to seek consensus. But that will be a 'mission impossible'. She managed to reunite her party but might find out the hard way that her cabinet colleagues Blocher and Couchepin are a different kettle of fish."

swissinfo, Urs Geiser

In brief

The Swiss government is made up of seven cabinet ministers, which are elected by parliament and have to be confirmed for a four-year term.

Since 1943 the cabinet has consisted of representatives of the four main political parties: centre-left Social Democrats, rightwing Swiss People's Party, the Radicals and Christian Democrats, both centre-right.

In 2003 the Christian Democrats lost one of their two seats to the rightwing People's Party.

The post of Swiss president is allocated on a rotating basis and is largely ceremonial.

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Key facts

Leuthard is only the fifth woman to be elected to the Swiss government.
She won 133 of the 242 votes in the House of Represenatives and the Senate.
The 43-year-old lawyer became a Christian Democratic Party parliamentarian in 1999.
In 2004 she took over the presidency of her party.

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