Schmid is appointed to boost Soldarity Foundation's popularity
The government has appointed Walter Schmid to head its planned Solidarity Foundation. It hopes the appointment will boost the popularity of its proposed charity for the poor and needy.
Schmid will take over the post part-time in September and on a full-time basis from October
The 47-year old lawyer and doctor of law is currently head of the city of Zurich's social services department. In the 1980s he was director of the Swiss Refugee Council.
The appointment of the politically-independent Schmid will fill a one-year vacancy created when the former project leader, Maud Krafft, stepped down from the post.
Schmid told swissinfo he did not expect his new job to be particularly easy but he was looking forward to the challenge. "Now the government has a concrete project which has been introduced into parliamentary procedure, and my job is to accompany its passage through parliament and encourage public debate."
The controversial project was launched three years ago at the height of international pressure on Switzerland to make amends for its role in the Second World War. The government hopes to use the proceeds from the sale of 500 tonnes of excess gold from the National Bank to fund the charity.
In March, the Christian Democrats surprised the other government parties by withdrawing their backing for the project. They said the idea did not have enough backing from the Swiss people and wanted the money to go to the International Committee of the Red Cross instead.
The government is due to put the project to a nationwide vote some time next year.
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