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What are the re-elections all about?

Switzerland’s seven cabinet ministers are up for re-election by parliament on Wednesday. Normally a routine procedure, the vote is seen as a test of the "magic formula," the traditional power-sharing agreement involving the major parties.

This content was published on December 15, 1999 - 09:00

Switzerland’s seven cabinet ministers are up for re-election by parliament on Wednesday. Normally a routine procedure, the vote is seen as a test of the "magic formula," the traditional power-sharing agreement involving the major parties.

Under the “magic formula,” which was agreed in 1959, the seven cabinet posts were divided among four parties, a move which helped ensure four decades of political stability. The centre-left Social Democrats, and the centre-right Radicals and Christian Democrats each held two seats in cabinet, with the right-wing Swiss People’s Party allocated one.

The traditional division of cabinet seats was thrown into doubt following the results of the October 24 parliamentary election, which saw the fourth largest party, the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, make considerable gains and become the second largest party in the House of Representatives.

The People's Party has asked for a second seat in the cabinet.

The secret ballot is the only time that an incumbent cabinet minister can be voted out of office -- a move that has only happened twice to date.

From staff and wire reports.

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