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Schmid is new Swiss president

Samuel Schmid picks up the baton for the first time swissinfo.ch

Defence minister Samuel Schmid is to be president of Switzerland in 2005.

This content was published on December 8, 2004 - 09:09

Schmid was handed the rotating presidency following a ballot held by both houses of parliament in a joint session on Wednesday.

He replaces the incumbent Joseph Deiss, the economics minister, and will take up his post on January 1.

It is the first time that Schmid has been elected to the presidency.

Transport Minister Moritz Leuenberger will be vice-president next year.

Schmid, who belongs to the rightwing People’s Party, has been a member of the Swiss government since 2000. His portfolio also includes sport.

The 57-year-old minister said his priorities for 2005 were boosting collegiality and cooperation in the cabinet. The past 12 months have seen ministers break ranks on government decisions.

The new president also plans to visit all the country's 26 cantons over the year.

EU split

Schmid said he would campaign for the second set of bilateral treaties with the European Union ahead of a nationwide vote threatened by his own party.

Cabinet colleague Christoph Blocher, who is a member of the People's Party, is opposed to the bilateral accords.

The post of Swiss president is largely ceremonial and is rotated among the seven members of the cabinet according to seniority.

Each president is in office for a period of one year and keeps his or her ministerial portfolios.

Last week both houses of parliament elected new speakers for the next 12 months.

The House of Representatives is led by Jean-Philippe Maitre, a member of the centre-right Christian Democrats. Party colleague Bruno Frick is the speaker of the Senate.

swissinfo

In brief

Samuel Schmid will be Swiss president from January 1, 2005, a week before his 58th birthday.

Schmid belongs to the rightwing Swiss People's Party.

He has been a member of the government since 2000 and is defence and sports minister.

His vice-president will be transport minister Moritz Leuenberger.

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