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People’s Party wants minister out

Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf has been ordered by the leadership of her rightwing People's Party to leave the party and give up her cabinet post.

The party has set a deadline of April 11. If she fails to comply, the leadership has told the branch of the party in her home canton of Graubünden to expel her.

Widmer-Schlumpf replaced the party’s controversial representative, Christoph Blocher, in the government last December. She was elected to the cabinet by parliament as a whole, against the wishes of the People’s Party.

The People’s Party justified its intention to expel her by saying that she had pushed Blocher from office, and “placed her personal interest and that of the [centre-left] Social Democratic Party above the interests of her own party”.

Widmer-Schlumpf, who has been a party member for three decades, and whose father was also a People’s Party minister, has refused to comply.

The Swiss government rejected the move as “crass” and pointed out that she had been democratically elected.

The central committee of the Graubünden section of the People’s Party described the call as “unacceptable”.

The Swiss government consists of seven members, representing the four largest parties in parliament. The People’s Party has two seats, but when Blocher was ousted it withdrew recognition of Widmer-Schlumpf and its other representative, Defence Minister Samuel Schmid, and announced it would go into opposition.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR