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Ruth Lüthi – an outsider and wild card

Language counts against Ruth Lüthi Keystone

After more than a decade as head of health in canton Fribourg, Ruth Lüthi had many of the qualities needed to succeed Ruth Dreifuss.

But there were two major obstacles: she originally hails from the German-speaking part of Switzerland and her canton is already represented in the government.

Lüthi has been a local minister since 1991, when she became head of canton Fribourg’s public health and social affairs department.

Although born in Grenchen in the German-speaking part of Switzerland in 1947, the bilingual Lüthi has lived in Fribourg for 30 years.

After studies in psychology and musicology in Fribourg, she went on to do a doctorate at Bern University.

A university career at Bern followed until she was elected to the cantonal parliament.

Lüthi has been a board member of the Swiss National Bank since 1999 and was head of Fribourg’s Social Democrats from 1988 to 1991.

In her spare time, Lüthi enjoys music and, until recently, was for 25 years an organist in several churches in Fribourg. She is married to former university professor, Ambros Lüthi.

Lüthi’s chances were hampered by the fact that Fribourg is already represented in the cabinet by Joseph Deiss.

Observers say that although the cantonal clause, which prohibits more than one minister from each canton, has been abolished, having two from Fribourg may have proved too hard to swallow.


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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR