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People’s Party bans chapter in ministerial row

The rightwing Swiss People's Party has moved to exclude one of its cantonal chapters over Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf.

The decision is subject to an appeal but delegates look set to confirm the ban of the Graubünden cantonal section at the beginning of next month.

An overwhelming majority of the party leadership approved a proposal to punish the Graubünden chapter for supporting Widmer-Schlumpf, according to senior party officials.

Widmer-Schlumpf criticised the decision as collective punishment and reiterated she would not give up her party membership.

She had accepted her election to cabinet – against the party’s wishes – after parliament voted out her controversial predecessor, Christoph Blocher, in December.

Reports say more liberal members and chapters could split from the People’s Party amid differences over its hardline policy.

It won 29 per cent of the vote in last year’s general election and is the biggest of the four main parties in parliament.

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SWI swissinfo.ch - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR