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Schmid: A bridge-builder in Bern

A consensus candidate: Samuel Schmid

(Keystone)

In contrast to some of his opponents in Wednesday's election, Samuel Schmid is a well known figure in national politics. Although a member of the right-wing Swiss People's Party, he often takes a more liberal stance on key issues.

Schmid's political career has been centred on Bern, where he served as a member of the cantonal parliament for 11 years until 1993. He was elected to the House of Representatives the following year, and moved to the Senate in 1999.

As a member of the more liberal Bern-based wing of the party - the same section as his predecessor, the outgoing defence minister, Adolf Ogi - he has often crossed swords with the hardline Zurich-based party wing, led by the populist figurehead, Christoph Blocher.

During his political career, however, he has been known as a bridge-builder between the opposing camps of the People's Party.

Where does Schmid stand on national issues?

* He is in favour of United Nations membership, in contrast to the majority of his party. The issue will come up for a popular vote in 2002.
* He goes against the party line in his support for increasing Swiss involvement in foreign peacekeeping operations.
* Like his party, he is opposed to Swiss membership of the European Union and Nato.
* He is deemed a hardliner on issues of asylum and immigration, but he voted against a recent move to reduce the number of foreigners to 18 per cent of the population.
* His social and finance views tend to place him in the middle ground of Swiss politics, winning him support among the centre-right parties.

A lawyer by training, Schmid is married with three children. He lives and works as a lawyer in Rüti bei Buren.

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