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Swiss President To Quit Government At End Of Year

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Swiss President Alain Berset stated Wednesday that he will leave the cabinet at the end of 2023, after a decade of ministerial service.

Berset, 51, informed his colleagues on Switzerland’s seven-member Federal Council government that he intended to resign at the end of the year, citing “the right time to leave.”

The presidency of the rich Alpine country is rotated among the council members on a yearly basis. Berset joined the administration in 2012 and is currently serving as president for the second time, having previously served in 2018.

“This morning I told the head of the parliament, as well as my colleagues on the Federal Council, that I plan to leave the Federal Council at the end of this legislature, therefore at the end of the year,” Berset told a hastily-arranged press conference in the capital Bern.

“I have the feeling that I’ve accomplished what is possible. I have given everything,” he said.

Berset is Switzerland’s interior minister, and as health minister, he was instrumental in the country’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

He was also a key figure in organizing the emergency takeover of Credit Suisse by its larger rival UBS over a weekend in March of this year.

He believed that otherwise, Switzerland’s second-largest bank would have disintegrated within days, causing internal upheaval and potentially a global banking crisis.

On October 22, the Swiss will go to the polls to elect new members of the National Council, the lower house of parliament, and the Council of States, the upper house that represents the cantons that comprise the Swiss confederation.

Seats on the Federal Council government rarely come up for grabs.

They are shared among the main political parties under a tacit decades-old agreement, known as “the magic formula”, which generally remains unaffected by power shifts in parliament but reflects the spirit of compromise that characterises Swiss democracy.

There are two new faces on the Federal Council this year, in the first changes in four years.

The president is first among equals on the council and represents the government to the outside world.

Berset is from the Socialist Party.

Vice-president Viola Amherd, the defence minister, will serve as president in 2024. She is from the centre-right Centre party.

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