Radicals elect new president
Switzerland’s centre-right Radical Party has elected a new president. Fulvio Pelli from Lugano becomes the fourth person to head the party since 2001.
At a party meeting on Saturday, the 54-year-old Pelli received 228 votes, 78 more than his challenger, Georges Theiler.
The Italian-speaking Pelli replaces Rolf Schweiger who stepped down for health reasons in November after only seven months in the job.
After the vote, Pelli called on party delegates to stand united. He had the backing of the minority Italian- and French-speaking cantons, and won over party members in the German-speaking cantons of Bern and Basel Country.
Analysts say that by choosing Pelli, delegates are sending a clear signal that they want the party to represent voters in the whole country, and not just the German-speaking majority.
The Radicals are divided over how to claw back votes lost to the rightwing Swiss People's Party.
Pelli is expected to continue the reforms begun by Schweiger last year, which promote continued close ties to the business community and a tight fiscal policy while being liberal on social issues.
He is said to be convinced that the Radicals have little chance of wooing back voters if they remain purely a business party.
Criticised by some party members as too left of centre, Pelli has refused to rule out joining forces with the People’s Party on certain issues when necessary.
The Radicals are currently the third largest party in parliament with 40 of the 200 seats in the House of Representatives, behind the Social Democrats and the People’s Party.
They are represented in the seven-member cabinet by Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin and the finance minister, Hans-Rudolf Merz.
swissinfo with agencies
Fulvio Pulli has been elected as the new president of the Radical Party.
He received nearly 80 more votes than his challenger, Georges Theiler.
The centre-right Radical Party is the third largest in parliament, and has two representatives in the seven-member cabinet.
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