Second Swiss minister announces resignation in a week

September 28, 2018


GENEVA (AFP) - Swiss Energy Minister Doris Leuthard announced Thursday that she will step down at the end of the year, marking the second government resignation in the past week. 

Leuthard has served in the Swiss government for more than 12 years, and has twice held the country's rotating one-year presidency. 

"The time has come to make room for new forces," the 55-year-old Christian Democrat, who currently heads the ministry of environment, transport, energy and communications, said in a letter sent to parliament. 

She is currently the longest-serving minister in the Swiss government. She had already said last year that she would not be seeking reelection in the 2019 general election. 
Her announcement came just days after Swiss Economy Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann said he also planned to leave the government at the end of the year. 

A member of the Liberal Party who joined the government in 2010, 66-year-old Schneider-Ammann had also previously said he did not intend to stay on past 2019. 
With Leuthard's resignation, only one woman remains in the seven-member government -- Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga -- and there is much pressure for Leuthard and Schneider-Ammann's parties to pick women to replace them. 

Switzerland's government counts seven posts traditionally shared among the major parties from right to left under a tacit decades-old agreement, and generally remains unaffected by power-balance shifts in parliament. 

This so-called "magic formula" has allowed the government to maintain an identical party-level composition for more than 40 years, although it has shifted somewhat since 2003, when the populist rightwing Swiss People's Party demanded two seats to reflect its status as the biggest party.