Swiss parliament picks a new face


He is a fresh face in the cabinet but Switzerland’s so-called “magic formula” for government remains the same. Parliament in Berne picked Didier Burkhalter to join the power-sharing, seven-member Federal Council. It took four rounds of voting but the economist came out on top, his election helping to maintain a delicate balance in the corridors of power.

A Free Democrat, Burkhalter replaces fellow liberal and French-speaker Pascal Couchepin who announced he was stepping down after championing unpopular welfare reforms. The “magic formula” under which cabinet seats are divided between the biggest parties has preserved harmony among Switzerland’s regions and language groups, although in recent years it has faced calls for reform.

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