The Swiss government announced a new president for 2017, who will take over from outgoing president Johann Schneider Ammann. Mrs Doris Leuthard will assume her role starting January 2017, her term will last for a year.
The office of president in Switzerland is decided by parliamentary votes. Leuthard was elected after receiving 188 votes from the Swiss Parliament. The Swiss presidency is held by a different member of the seven-person cabinet every calendar year.
The office of president in Switzerland is different from other countries; the elected president usually takes his/her decisions after consulting with other member of the Federal Council, the president’s power does not surpass the power of the other six members of the Federal Council.
Nevertheless a president is elected every year to act as the face of the country, representing it officially, and plays an important role in Switzerland’s international diplomacy.
Leuthard has a strong political background; she studied in Zurich and worked as a lawyer before entering politics. She is fluent in Switzerland’s official languages and speaks German, French, Italian and English.
Before embarking on other important political roles, Leuthard served as a minister for energy and transport. She played an important role in some of Switzerland’s most important political initiatives such as the Gotthard road tunnel, privatizing public services, intervening to provide sustainable resources, and ending nuclear power. In most of these major political cases she played a key role and all of the decisions went her way.
This isn’t the first time Leuthard takes office; she was elected president in 2010 becoming the third women in Swiss history to hold that position and the first woman from the Swiss-German region.
Among her most notable achievements is leading the Christian-Democrats for two years before getting elected to the seven-person Federal Council in 2006, becoming the fifth female member to hold the position.
She also played an important role in her tenure as environment minister, she kick-started Switzerland’s plan to withdraw from nuclear power following the Fukushima disaster in 2011.
Leuthard is certainly popular in the Swiss political sphere, making her the most popular politician according to two local newspapers that nicknamed her “Queen Doris,” and “Superstar Leuthard.”
Being the longest serving member of the Federal Council there are many speculations that 2017 might be her final year government, but with her ever-increasing popularity only time would tell if she would continue in politics.