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Survey favours Leuenberger and Calmy-Rey

Leuenberger and Calmy-Rey are the most popular choices

(Keystone Archive)

Among Swiss voters, Moritz Leuenberger and Micheline Calmy-Rey are the most popular choices of the seven cabinet ministers for the post of president.

Parliamentarians are expected to back Leuenberger as the 2006 Swiss president when they vote on Wednesday. The rightwing Swiss People's Party has declared it will oppose his appointment.

However, a survey published in Le Matin Dimanche newspaper shows that Leuenberger's impending accession to the Swiss presidency is widely supported by the public.

According to the poll, 59 per cent of those interviewed are in favour of Leuenberger's candidacy.

The Swiss presidency traditionally rotates on an annual basis between the seven cabinet ministers, according to seniority. The candidate is then confirmed with a vote by both parliamentary chambers.

The post is largely ceremonial and each president keeps his or her ministerial portfolios for the year they are in office.

Asked how they would vote if they were in the place of parliamentarians next Wednesday, 59 per cent of those polled said they would support Leuenberger, while 27 per cent said they would oppose his appointment.

Criticism

The People's Party has been vocal in its criticism of Leuenberger's performance as communications, transport and environment minister.

The parliamentary party announced last week that it would not vote for him on December 7, on the grounds that he has handled his portfolios badly.

The party declared it would instead vote for Calmy-Rey, who currently serves in the government as foreign minister. She is slated to be vice-president in 2006 and president in 2007.

Interviewees in the telephone survey were also asked who they would choose as president, not taking into account the rotating system.

Leuenberger and Calmy-Rey, both members of the centre-left Social Democratic Party, each received the backing of 24 per cent of those surveyed.

People's choice

Around 13 per cent said they would choose Justice Minister Christoph Blocher of the People's Party as president, 11 per cent his party colleague and current president Samuel Schmid.

Only four per cent said they would choose economics minister and centre-right Christian Democrat Joseph Deiss as president. The same proportion favoured Hans-Rudolf Merz of the centre-right Radical Party.

The other Radical Party minister, Pascal Couchepin, trailed his colleagues with just one per cent.

The survey of 600 people across the country was carried out on November 30 by the Erasm Institute. The margin of error is 4.5 per cent.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The Swiss president is chosen from the seven cabinet ministers.

The candidate is elected by parliament for a one-year term.

Tradition dictates that the presidency should rotate according to seniority: each minister serves under the presidency of those who joined the cabinet before him or her, before taking on the role.

The role of the president is mainly ceremonial. He or she also chairs cabinet meetings.

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