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Schmid to take over defence portfolio

Samuel Schmid confirmed he would take over the defence portfolio

(Keystone)

The new member of the Swiss cabinet, Samuel Schmid, is to take over as defence minister - a portfolio currently held by the outgoing president, Adolf Ogi, who is stepping down at the end of the year.

Schmid, a member of the right-wing Swiss People's Party, confirmed his new post on Friday. The ministry includes the federal offices for civil protection and sport.

Schmid will be the third People's Party member to hold the defence portfolio since the seven cabinet posts were divided among the four main parties in 1959.

That agreement - known as the "magic formula" - gives the People's Party one seat in the cabinet, while the other three parties each have two.

Schmid was elected by parliament on Wednesday to replace Ogi. Both are members of the Bern-based wing of the People's Party, regarded as more moderate than the Zurich wing, which is headed by the populist figurehead, Christoph Blocher.

Schmid's election was seen as a slap in the face for party hardliners, who had put forward two candidates for the cabinet post. Both were rejected by parliament.

Analysts say the three other parties in government - the centre-left Social Democrats, and the centre-right Christian Democrats and Radicals - rejected the People's Party candidates as a sign of displeasure at the party's hard-line policies and its frequent "opposition" stance within the collective responsibility cabinet.

In another vote on Wednesday, parliament confirmed the transport, energy and communications minister, Moritz Leuenberger, as next year's Swiss president. The finance minister, Kaspar Villiger, was confirmed as deputy president.

swissinfo with agencies


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