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Thérèse Meyer elected speaker of the House

Tuesday's election of Thérèse Meyer comes on International Women's Day Keystone

The House of Representatives has elected as its new speaker, Thérèse Meyer, only the seventh woman to hold the post.

Tuesday’s election of Meyer, a Christian Democrat from canton Fribourg, coincides with International Women’s Day.

Elected by an overwhelming majority to what is considered to be the highest office in the country, Meyer succeeds party colleague Jean-Philippe Maitre.

Maitre, who is suffering from a brain tumour, stepped down from office last week to a standing ovation.

A resident of Estavayer-le-Lac, Meyer has been a member of the House of Representatives – the chamber that represents the Swiss people – since 1999.

She is a specialist in social and health issues, and is a member of the social security and public health committee. She also sits on the committee of political institutions.

Mayor Meyer

Meyer’s political career began in 1980 when she was elected to the parliament of Estavayer-le-Lac. Two years later she entered the town’s government before taking over as mayor from 1991 to 1999.

She was also a member of the parliament of Fribourg from December 1996 to December 1999.

After her election on Tuesday, Meyer gave her best wishes to Maitre.

This is the third time that Meyer has “inherited” a position by replacing someone who has resigned.

This was the case when she took over as mayor in Estavayer-le-Lac in 1991 and in 1999 when she replaced her colleague Joseph Deiss in the House of Representatives. Deiss was elected to the cabinet.

Meyer said that because of the circumstances surrounding the election, she did not want any celebration. She will hold office as House speaker until November 28.

swissinfo with agencies

Previous women speakers of the House:

Elisabeth Blunschy (Christian Democrat, Schwyz)) – 1977
Hedi Lang (Social Democrat, Zurich) – 1981/1982
Gret Haller (Social Democrat, Bern) – 1993/94
Judith Stamm (Christian Democrat, Lucerne) – 1996/97
Trix Heberlein (Radical, Zurich) – 1998/99
Liliane Maury Pasquier (Social Democrat, Geneva) – 2001/2002

Thérèse Meyer, who was born in 1948 at Châtel St-Denis, is married with three sons.

From 1982 to 1991, she sat in the local government before standing as mayor of Estavayer-le-Lac from 1991 to 1999.

In April 1999, Meyer entered the House of Representatives, replacing Joseph Deiss who was elected to the cabinet.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR