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Cabinet election horse-trading in full swing

The re-election of Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf to the cabinet is all but assured after several parties lined up behind her candidacy on Tuesday evening.

Four major parties – the centre-left Social Democrats, the centre-right Christian Democrats, the Greens and Widmer-Schlumpf’s centre-right Conservative Democrats – declared their support for her continued presence in the cabinet. Together they represent a majority in the parliament.

The collective move to support Widmer-Schlumpf presents a difficult situation for the rightwing Swiss People’s Party as it seeks to install a second member in the cabinet.

To gain the additional seat, the only other credible option would be to challenge a cabinet ally – Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann, a member of the centre-right Radical Party.

Speaking to reporters, Social Democrat President Christian Levrat said the party was clear in its support for the People’s Party to hold two seats in the cabinet, but at the expense of the Radical Party rather than Widmer-Schlumpf.

Levrat said the decision to support Widmer-Schlumpf was based on the improved position of the centre parties which he said could together expect to hold two seats in the cabinet. Environment Minister Doris Leuthard holds her seat on behalf of the Christian Democrats.

He added that the People’s Party should declare its intentions ahead of the election date of December 14.

However, People’s Party President Toni Brunner said the party had no plans to challenge Schneider-Ammann.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR