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Swiss parliament chooses two women to join cabinet

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-12-06 10:18
Newly-elected Federal Councilors Karin Keller-Sutter (R) and Viola Amherd pose for photos at the Federal Parliament in Bern, capital of Switzerland, Dec 5, 2018. Switzerland's parliament Wednesday chose two women, one from a centrist party and one from a center-right party, to join the country's seven-person executive, the Federal Council, which operates as the cabinet. [Photo/Xinhua]

GENEVA - Switzerland's parliament Wednesday chose two women, one from a centrist party and one from a center-right party, to join the country's seven-person executive, the Federal Council, which operates as the cabinet.

Viola Amherd, a member of the centrist Christian Democratic Party, replaces party colleague Doris Leuthard, who is standing down at the end of December this year after a 12-year stint in the cabinet.

The Swiss Federal Assembly - the 200 members of the House of Representatives and the 46 Senate members - also picked Karin Keller-Sutter from the center-right Radical-Liberal Party to replace Johann Schneider-Ammann, who is retiring after eight years in cabinet, the Federal Council said in a statement.

Amherd and Keller-Sutter are the eighth and ninth female cabinet ministers to serve in Switzerland.

The Federal Council now comprises four men and three women.

Amherd, 56, is a lawyer from the Valais canton in southwest Switzerland and has sat in the House of Representatives since 2005.

She defeated party colleague Heidi Z'graggen by receiving 148 votes out of the 240 cast in the first round of voting.

Keller-Sutter, 54, is the Senate president from St. Gallen canton in northeast Switzerland. Before her political career, she worked as a conference interpreter and a secondary school teacher.

According to a 2015 survey, Keller-Sutter holds tough positions on questions including naturalization, parental leave, and transparency in party financing, Swissinfo, the website of the Swiss national broadcaster reported.

Although Federal Councilors are customarily bound to act in the national interest, rather than follow their party lines.

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