Alain Berset, President of Switzerland (since Jan 1, 2018)
Alain Berset was born in Fribourg on 9 April 1972. He studied Political Science and Economics at the University of Neuchâtel where he graduated in 1996, later obtaining a doctorate in 2005. He is married and the father of three children.
While preparing his doctoral dissertation he worked as an assistant lecturer at the Research Institute for Regional Economic Development at the University of Neuchâtel. He then held a post as guest researcher at the Hamburg Institute of International Economics before becoming a strategic advisor at the Department of Economic Affairs of canton Neuchâtel. In 2006 he set up his own business as an independent strategy and communications advisor working primarily for associations, businesses and NGOs.
In 2003 Alain Berset was elected to the Council of States for the canton of Fribourg and was its president in the year 2008/2009. From 2005 until his election to the Federal Council he was vice president of the Social Democratic group. He was a member of numerous parliamentary committees, including the Finance Committee, the Committee for Economic Affairs and Taxation, the Legal Affairs Committee and the Finance Delegation. He chaired the Council Office, the Political Institutions Committee and the Delegation to the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie. Before his election to the Council of States he was president of the Social Democratic group in the Constitutional Council of canton Fribourg. Between 2001 and 2003 he was a member of the local parliament of his commune of residence.
In addition to his political appointments Alain Berset was president of the Swiss Tenants’ Association – Western Switzerland Section, the Swiss Association for the promotion of AOC/IGP and ‘Les Buissonnets’, a foundation for children and adults with disabilities.
He was elected to the Federal Council by the United Federal Assembly on 14 December 2011. Since 1 January 2012 he is head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs.
Doris Leuthard, Former President of Switzerland (elected on Dec 7, 2016)
From 1 August 2006 till 31 October 2010 she was head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs (the Swiss commerce minister). Since 1 November 2010 she is head of the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications. She was elected President of the Confederation for 2010, and on 7 December 2016 for 2017.
Leuthard was a member of the Swiss National Council from 1999 to 2006 and President of the Christian Democratic People’s Party (CVP/PDC) (2004–2006). She represented Aargau.
Following the resignation of Joseph Deiss from the Swiss Federal Council, Leuthard was elected as his successor on 14 June 2006. She received 133 out of 234 valid votes, and became the 109th member (and fifth woman) of the Federal Council. Her election represented a departure from a long precedent of replacing a member of the Federal Council with someone from the same language group. While Deiss was a French speaker, Leuthard is a German speaker.
For the calendar year 2009, Leuthard was elected Vice President of the Swiss Confederation, virtually assuring her election as president for the calendar year 2010. Due to a large amount of turnover on the Council in recent years, she was the longest-serving councilor not to have served as president. She was the third woman to hold the post, after Ruth Dreifuss (1999) and Micheline Calmy-Rey (2007).
As President of the Confederation, Leuthard presided over meetings of the Federal Council and carried out representative functions that would normally be handled by a head of state in other democracies (though in Switzerland, the Federal Council as a whole is regarded as the head of state). She was also the highest-ranking official in the Swiss order of precedence, and had the power to act on behalf of the whole Council in emergency situations. However, in most cases, Leuthard was merely primus inter pares, with no power above and beyond her six colleagues. She was succeeded by Calmy-Rey in 2011, the first time two women had held the office in succession.
Following a reshuffle of portfolios after the by-election of two new councilors in 2010, Leuthard replaced outgoing Moritz Leuenberger at the head of the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications.
The project SAFFA 2020 is under the patronage of the three federal councillors (Bundesrat) Doris Leuthard, Simonetta Sommaruga and Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf as well as by the former councillor (aBR) Micheline Calmy-Rey.
Johann Schneider-Ammann, Former President of Switzerland (takes office on Jan 1, 2016)
Johann Niklaus Schneider-Ammann (born 18 February 1952) is a Swiss businessman and politician. Member of the Free Democratic Party, he was elected to the Swiss National Council in 1999. The son of a veterinary born in Sumiswald, Switzerland, he graduated as an electrical engineer from the ETH Zürich in 1977, and obtained a Master of Business Administration from INSEAD in France in 1983.
He acted as head of his family’s mechanical engineering company Ammann Group in the 4th generation, from 1990 to 2010, when he passed control over the company to his two children. He chaired the corporate union Swissmem from 1999. He was elected to the National Council in 1999 and re-elected in 2003 and 2007. In the context of the 2008 financial crisis, he took a critical stances on bonuses awarded to the finance industry. In 2008, his company moved substantial funds to a tax haven in Jersey.
On 22 September 2010, he was elected to the Swiss Federal Council, as successor to Hans-Rudolf Merz. He is the head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research—the Swiss commerce minister(formerly the Federal Department of Economic Affairs)–taking office on 1 November 2010. Schneider-Ammann had previously announced his intention to step down from his corporate responsibilities as well as various board memberships if elected.
Schneider-Ammann is married, has two children and lives in Langenthal.
Simonetta Sommaruga, Former President of Switzerland (since Jan 1, 2015)
Simonetta Sommaruga (born 14 May 1960) is a Swiss politician of the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland. She is a member of the Swiss Federal Council, the federal government of Switzerland, and head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police (the Swiss justice minister). She served as Vice President of the Swiss Confederation for the year 2014, and in 2015 succeeded to the role of President.
Sommaruga is married to the writer Lukas Hartmann and lives in Spiegel near Bern. She is a distant relative of Cornelio Sommaruga.
Didier Burkhalter, Former President of Switzerland (elected on Dec 4, 2013)
Didier Burkhalter (born 17 April 1960 in Neuchâtel) is a Swiss politician of FDP.The Liberals. As of January 1, 2014, he serves as President of the Swiss Confederation. He was elected as member of the Swiss Federal Councilon 16 September 2009, and succeeded Pascal Couchepin on 1 November 2009 when he became head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs (the Swiss interior minister). On 16 December 2011, the Federal Council announced that as of 1 January 2012, Burkhalter will head the Department of Foreign Affairs.
A native of the Canton of Neuchâtel, he was member of the parliament of the Canton of Neuchâtel from 1990 to 2001. From 2003 to 2007, Burkhalter was a member of the Swiss National Council. He has a degree in economics.
On 11 November 2007, he was elected to the Council of States, along with Social Democratic Party (SP) candidate Gisèle Ory, who was re-elected for a second term. Pierre Bonhôte, the other social democratic incumbent, was not re-elected. During the election campaign, Burkhalter was backed by the Liberal Party (PLS) and the SVP/UDC, though the SVP/UDC scarcely endorsed him publicly.
In 2013, Burkhalter was elected as Vice President of the Confederation, alongside President Ueli Maurer, all but assuring his election as president in 2014. Due to a large amount of turnover on the Federal Council since the start of the millennium, Burkhalter is the longest-serving member of the Federal Council who at the time, had not yet served as president.
On January 1, 2014 Burkhalter assumed the office as President of the Swiss Confederation. As President of the Confederation, Burkhalter presides over meetings of the Federal Council and carries out representative functions that would normally be handled by a head of state in other democracies (though in Switzerland, the Federal Council as a whole is regarded as the head of state). He is also the highest-ranking official in the Swiss order of precedence, and has the power to act on behalf of the whole Council in emergency situations. However, in most cases, the president is merely primus inter pares, with no powers over and above his six colleagues.
Micheline Calmy-Rey, Former President of the Swiss Confederation
Micheline Calmy-Rey was born in Sion in Canton Valais on 8 July 1945 . She is married with two children and has a degree in political science from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva.
For 20 years she ran a book distribution business. In 1979, she joined the Socialist Party of Geneva, which she later served as president for two terms. As a deputy in the Grand Conseil, or cantonal legislature, she took an interest in public finance, and when she became a member of the cantonal government in 1998, she took over as head of the Department of Finance. In four years, she achieved her goal through a thorough restructuring of the Department’s services. She also successfully oversaw the restructuring of the Cantonal Bank of Geneva which was burdened by a large volume of non-performing loans.
Micheline Calmy-Rey was elected to the Swiss Federal Council on 4 December 2002 and was appointed as head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). She pursues an active foreign policy marked by a commitment to promoting peace, respect for international law and human rights, and the fight against poverty. The aim of this policy is to ensure security and well-being for all Swiss citizens.
In 2007, Micheline Calmy-Rey was President of the Confederation.
On December 10, 2010, Parliament elected Micheline Calmy-Rey as President for 2011 (106 of 189 votes).
Click here to view MICHELINE CALMY-REY’s CV.
Doris Leuthard, Former President of the Swiss Confederation
Prior to assuming her current position as Head of the FDEA on 1 August 2006, Mrs. Leuthard had been a member of the National Council for seven years and President of the Christian Democratic People’s Party from 2004. During her time in the National Council, she was a member of the committees for legal affairs, political institutions, judicial affairs and economic affairs and taxation.
Mrs. Leuthard was born in 1963 and is a lawyer by training. She is married to Dr. Roland Hausin, a research chemist.
Hans-Rudolf Merz, Former President of the Swiss Confederation
Hans-Rudolf Merz was born in Herisau on 10 November 1942 (and is a citizen of Beinwil am See). After attending primary school and secondary school in Herisau and high school in Trogen, he went to the University of St. Gallen. He completed his studies in 1971 with a dissertation on the subject of “Financial assets and administrative assets from the standpoint of public law and economics”, and was awarded a doctorate in political sciences. Between 1967 and 1969, he also held the post of Assistant Lecturer at the Institute of Public Finance and Fiscal Law at the University of St. Gallen.
After leaving university, Hans-Rudolf Merz worked as Secretary of the FDP St. Gallen between 1969 and 1974 and also as managing director of the Appenzell Ausserrhoden Industrial Association. At the same time, he was manager of the Herisau Sports Centre. This was followed by a post as Deputy Director of UBS’s Wolfsberg Executive Development Centre between 1974 and 1977. Between 1977 and 2003, Mr Merz worked as an independent business consultant and was on the board of various Swiss industrial and services companies. His field of activity covered the Middle East, South Africa, Latin America and Europe. As a business consultant he specialised in the recruitment and training of senior management together with corporate development.
Before being elected to the Federal Council, Hans-Rudolf Merz was Chairman of the Board of Directors for Helvetia Patria Insurance AG, St. Gallen, Cilander Textile Finishing AG, Herisau and the holding company Anova Holding AG, Hurden. Furthermore up until the end of 2003, he also held directorships in Hüber + Suhner AG, Herisau, Concast Holding AG, Zurich and Steinegg Holding AG, Herisau. Before this he had been Chairman of Spinnerei Streiff AG in Aathal and Chairman of the Appenzell Ausserrhoden Cantonal Bank where he was responsible for the reorganisation and sale of the bank to the Union Bank of Switzerland. He has also held directorships in Schmidt-Agence AG, Schläpfer AG Appenzeller-Zeitung and SIG AG, Neuhausen.
In 1997 Hans-Rudolf Merz was elected to the Council of States as a representative of Appenzell Ausserrhoden where, as a member of the Radical Free Democratic Party (FDP), he chaired the Finance Committee and was a member of the Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Committees. In addition, he was vice-president of the OSCE delegation. He was elected to the Federal Council in December 2003. Since taking office at the start of 2004, Mr. Merz has been head of the Federal Department of Finance (FDF). On 10 December 2008, he was elected President of the Swiss Confederation for 2009 by the United Federal Assembly.
Hans-Rudolf Merz is married and the father of three grown-up sons. Culture and sport are the mainstay of his spare time activities. His hobbies include opera, jazz, cultural history, literature and ice hockey. Before being elected to the Federal Council, he was president of the Folklore Museum in Stein in Appenzell Ausserrhoden and the Ferdinand Gehr Foundation in St. Gallen, as well as being a member of the Board of Directors of the St. Gallen City Theatre and a trustee of the Steinegg Foundation. For many years he was also president of the Herisau Ice Skating Club.
In the army, Hans-Rudolf Merz held the rank of Major.
Micheline Calmy-Rey, Former President of Switzerland
Micheline Calmy-Rey (born July 8, 1945) is a Swiss politician, member of the Swiss Federal Council since 2003. She is head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (the Swiss foreign minister) and President of the Confederation for 2007.
Early life and education
Calmy-Rey was born in Sion in the canton of Valais to Charles and Adeline Rey. She received her diploma in 1963 in St. Maurice, and received a degree in political science at the Institut de hautes études internationales (HEI) (Graduate Institute of International Studies) in 1968. In 1966 she married André Calmy. They have two children.
From 1981-1997 Calmy-Rey served as a Congresswoman in the Grand Conseil of the canton of Geneva as a member of the Social Democratic Party (PSS/SPS), and served as president of the assembly during 1992-1993. She was president of the Geneva section of the party from 1986-1990 and again from 1993-1997. In 1997, Calmy-Rey was elected to the Conseil d’Etat of Geneva. In 2001 she became head of the Finance Department and president of the Conseil d’Etat.
She was elected on December 4, 2002 to the Federal Council, heading the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Calmy-Rey is only the fourth woman elected to the Federal Council in history. On December 7, 2005 she was elected Vice-President of Switzerland, a post she held for the calendar year of 2006.
In 2007 she will be the second female President of the Confederation in history, the first having been her predecessor on the Federal Council, Ruth Dreifuss. She was elected as President on 13 December 2006 by 147 votes.