Swiss party leaders haggle over cabinet seats

The Swiss government and the leaders of the four governing parties have been holding talks ahead of next month's election of cabinet ministers. The discussions have been overshadowed by demands from the conservative People's Party for an extra seat.

This content was published on November 19, 1999 - 15:37

The Swiss government and the leaders of the four governing parties have been holding talks ahead of next month's election of cabinet ministers. The discussions have been overshadowed by demands from the conservative People's Party for an extra seat.

On the eve of the talks, the People’s Party insisted that it wanted a second seat in government, following its strong showing in last month’s general election. Traditionally the weakest of the four parties in government, the People’s Party is now the second largest in the House of Representatives.

Its demand places in jeopardy the so-called magic formula which has, for 40 years determined the cabinet carve-up.

Matters will come to a head on December 15th, when members of both houses of parliament vote for the seven members of the cabinet. Until now the incumbents have always been confirmed in their posts. But now the People’s Party seems certain to put up alternative candidates.

However, the other three governing parties say they’re opposed to such a move and want serving ministers kept in place.

Correspondents say it’s still too early to tell to what extent the People’s Party manoeuvrings have undermined Switzerland’s traditional consensual style of government.

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