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Unorthodox challenger eyes cabinet seat

Luc Recordon has set his sights high

(Keystone)

Luc Recordon is hoping to unseat the controversial justice minister, Christoph Blocher, in Wednesday's elections to the Swiss cabinet.

The Green Party senator stands virtually no chance of getting elected, but he has made a mark on parliament over the past four years.

Recordon's appearance is remarkable enough. A tall man with a leonine mane, he is forced to walk slowly and uncertainly on artificial legs: Recordon was born 52 years ago with Holt-Oram syndrome, meaning no thumbs, no tibias (shin bones) and a weak heart.

Two years ago he shocked his colleagues in parliament during a debate on transplant medicine. He said that given the harsh reality of living with a serious disability he would prefer not to have been born.

Yet despite his disability he completed studies in engineering and law and nurtured an interest in politics. His career at a federal level began when he was elected to the House of Representatives in 2003. Four years later he won a seat in the Senate for his home canton of Vaud.

"I've always been interested in more than just one thing. By definition politics deals with very different matters. I've also developed a strong sense of justice for personal reasons," he says.

Challenger

Recordon is ready to challenge Blocher, the figurehead of the rightwing Swiss People's Party, in the cabinet.

"My chances of getting elected are between five and ten per cent," he admits. But more important for him than actually succeeding in unseating Blocher is the moral obligation.

"Blocher showed disdain for institutions and people. He has ambitions for power that cannot go uncontested," Recordon says.

In his challenge, he refers to Republican values, respect and the balance of power. He claims to have 71 per cent of the electorate behind him who did not vote for Blocher's party in October's parliamentary elections.

Recordon says he is not impressed by the People's Party's threats to pull out of government altogether if Blocher is ousted.

He says the People's Party cannot do more damage than it is doing now even if it were to use all its powers of direct democracy as an opposition party.

"Just take the proposal they launched to ban the construction of minarets in Switzerland."

Fighting spirit

Recordon's fighting rhetoric marks many of his statements in parliament. But he dismisses allegations that he is a leftwing hardliner.

"I'm known as somebody who seeks viable solutions and compromises," he says, adding that he is at ease in the Senate because the debates follow party lines to a lesser extent than in the House of Representatives.

Recordon's political roots lie in the 1970s with the emerging environmentalist groups. Political parties were suspicious because they appeared busy defending their positions.

"Political movements were my home for political activities," he reflects.

Recordon says his education made him a firm believer in liberal values with "libertarian overtones". The classic leftwing parties never appealed to him.

Despite his numerous commitments and busy days, Recordon appears to be able to take a step back from it all – something he learnt on his extensive travels through Asia and Latin America.

He remembers a moment in China more than ten years ago when he was on the phone to his secretary in Lausanne. She gave him an emotional account of the elections to the cantonal government of Vaud where a Communist candidate scored the best result.

"Seen from Beijing, I couldn't help but laugh out loud and think how absolutely unimportant this is," he remembers.

swissinfo, based on an article in Italian by Andrea Tognina

Key facts

Recordon is one of two Green Party members elected to the Senate in 2007.

He sat in the House of Representatives from 2003-2007 and was a member of the Vaud cantonal parliament from 1990 to 2003.

Recordon, who is 52, has also been a member of the local government in his home town of Jouxtens-Mézery near Lausanne in western Switzerland.

He trained as an engineer at the Federal Institute of Technology and also has a PhD in law.

He runs a lawyer's office in Lausanne and sits on the board of the Vaud Cantonal Bank.

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