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Widmer-Schlumpf takes on Swiss presidency

All smiles: Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf on election day AFP

Freshly re-elected Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf will serve as president of Switzerland in 2012.

The post of president rotates annually among the seven cabinet members. The 55-year-old Conservative Democrat received 179 out of 239 votes in the parliamentary presidential election on Wednesday. Defence Minister Ueli Maurer will be her stand-in.

Widmer-Schlumpf is the first Conservative Democrat to serve as Swiss president. She joined the newly-formed party after she defied the People’s Party and accepted a place in the cabinet in 2007.

At that time, the People’s Party insisted that  she give up her new seat, which she had taken from controversial Justice Minister Christoph Blocher.

Widmer-Schlumpf served as justice minister for three years, and has been the finance minister since autumn 2010. The Graubünden politician’s father was also a member of the cabinet and served as president.

Widmer-Schlumpf takes the place of the retiring president and foreign minister, Micheline Calmy-Rey. She is the third woman in a row to serve as Swiss president.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR