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Social Democrats demand third cabinet post

Hans-Jürg Fehr was in a combative mood at the party meeting Keystone

Switzerland’s Social Democratic party says the left should be awarded an additional cabinet post due to its recent successes at the ballot box.

This content was published on June 25, 2005 - 17:38

At a meeting in canton Fribourg on Saturday, party members also called for a yes vote in September’s referendum on a key bilateral treaty with the European Union.

The party president, Hans-Jürg Fehr, said Switzerland's second largest party, together with the Greens, was deserving of the third post.

For the first time, he said, the Social Democrats had more seats than any other party in the cantonal parliaments, and were on the winning side in the majority of referenda of the past couple of years.

Party members voted unanimously in favour of a trade union initiative to introduce a flexible retirement age, making it possible for the middle and lower-middle class to afford to draw a pension from the age of 62.

It is a counterproposal to a government plan to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67.

A large majority of Social Democrat delegates also agreed on Saturday to follow the party leadership and support a bilateral accord with the EU.

The Swiss will vote in September on whether to extend the free movement of people treaty to the 10 new EU member states.

Fair

The Social Democratic foreign minister, Micheline Calmy-Rey, told delegates that the accord would ensure a fairer labour market, and would boost the Swiss economy.

The delegates also approved a resolution demanding that the government enforce measures to protect the Swiss workforce against wage dumping.

The Radical, Liberal and Green parties also came out in favour of the EU treaty at their meetings on Saturday, as did the largest Swiss trade union, Unia.

The economics minister, Joseph Deiss, called on delegates of his Christian Democratic Party at their gathering in Einsiedeln to support the accord.

The right-wing Swiss People’s Party, the largest of the four government parties, has recommended that its members reject the bilateral treaty.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The Social Democrats have 38,000 members, and is represented in every Swiss canton.

It has 52 seats in the House of Representatives - four fewer than the Swiss People's Party, the largest in parliament - and nine seats in the Senate, as well as two of the seven cabinet posts.

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