• Switzerland's news in English
 

Introducing... Doris Leuthard

Published: 04 May 2012 14:50 GMT+02:00
Updated: 04 May 2012 11:12 GMT+02:00

Introducing... is The Local's new column giving the lowdown on a top Swiss personality. This week Lyssandra Sears looks at the woman who was recently voted Switzerland’s favourite politician and once got wellied at the Mountain Cheese Olympics.

Who is she and why is she famous?

Doris Leuthard is a trained lawyer and member of the Christian Democratic People’s Party. She was voted onto the Federal Council in 2006, and elected as president in 2010. Having served as economic affairs minister until 2010, she is currently head of the Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications.

She was president? But she’s… a woman.

She is a woman, that’s correct. She is, more precisely, the fifth woman ever to be elected to the Federal Council, Switzerland's government.

In fact, at the time she was elected, all three rotating governmental posts were filled by women. She was so was chuffed with this that she organized a special event, inviting 700 women from all over Switzerland to talk about everything from being a grandmother to working unusual jobs.

She was also recently voted Switzerland’s most popular politician in a survey by two Sunday newspapers.

Just why is she so popular then?

Well it might have something to do with the fact that she likened German anti-noise campaigners to the Taliban…

What?!

Yes, she said the southern German campaigners were like Taliban terrorists trying to sabotage Zurich airport, which didn’t go down too well in Germany. They were outraged apparently. But despite a spot of discomfort in the confederation, on the whole a round of cheers went up for Leuthard on the Swiss side.

She speaks her mind...

She does. She didn’t shy away from talking to the pope about child abuse in the church. She also criticized the government for opening up Switzerland’s borders to the EU, and she thinks the initiative to restrict the construction of second homes should be toned down.

Those can’t be the only reasons she was voted the country's favourite politician….

Well, no. She is also busy doing a good job in her role as ministry chief. She flies around the world talking about climate change and trying to get people to agree to doing good. 

Hmm. Flies around the world, doing good, and climate change aren’t generally things that sit comfortably together in one sentence.

Would you rather she cycled herself to the climate summit in Mexico? Or hiked her way to China?

OK, point taken, she’s virtuous. But she’s also a politician. She must screw up?

Of course. She got wellied at a cheese contest in 2009.

Wellied? Not trollied?

No, she’s Swiss, not English. She had lots of wellington boots thrown at her by angry farmers at the sxth Mountain Cheese Olympics in the canton of Jura. She had to be protected by bodyguards with umbrellas. Apparently the farmers were furious that she wouldn’t help them in talks with the Swiss milk producers’ association.

What does she do for laughs?

Well, she doesn’t take public announcements about pony gymkhana trials very seriously for some reason. She had a giggling fit in parliament that did the rounds on YouTube. 

She sounds like a good sport.

She is, just as long as she's not exposed to the holy ire of the cheese olympians.

Lyssandra Sears (news@thelocal.ch)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Torrential rain swells Swiss rivers and lakes
Photo: Monthey municipal police

Torrential rain swells Swiss rivers and lakes

Parts of Western Switzerland continued on Sunday to clear up debris from flash floods triggered by heavy rain over the weekend that swelled rivers and lakes well beyond their normal banks, disrupting transport and prompting the evacuation of residents in two communities. READ  

Swiss train passengers evacuated after landslide
SBB Intercity train. Photo: SBB

Swiss train passengers evacuated after landslide

Five hundred passengers from an Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) train were evacuated on Sunday afternoon after a landslide in the canton of Fribourg cut rail traffic between Bern and Lausanne. READ  

'Imperious' Federer wins 85th title in Istanbul
Photo: AFP

'Imperious' Federer wins 85th title in Istanbul

Switzerland's Roger Federer on Sunday won the Istanbul Open with a superb display of clay court tennis to defeat Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay in straight sets. READ  

Tour de Romandie
Surprise win for Zakarin in Tour de Romandie
Ilnur Zakarin revelling in the attention of two hostesses after winning the Tour de Romandie UCI World Tour. Credit: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

Surprise win for Zakarin in Tour de Romandie

Katusha cyclist Ilnur Zakarin of Russia won the Tour de Romandie race in Lausanne on Sunday, holding off Britain's two-time defending champion Chris Froome in the closing individual time-trial. READ  

Tour de Romandie
Albasini wins second stage in Romandie race
Albasini makes it two in a row. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Albasini wins second stage in Romandie race

Switzerland's Michael Albasini bagged his second straight win in the Tour de Romandie cycling race to consolidate his overall lead on Thursday's third stage. READ  

Swiss free trade deal talks with India stall
John Mark Wells, CEO of Swiss startup GovFaces, promotes company in Bangalore. Photo: Swissnex India

Swiss free trade deal talks with India stall

A long-delayed free trade deal between India and Switzerland is not likely to be signed soon, a senior Swiss official said on Thursday, with differences on intellectual property rights and data protection still unresolved. READ  

UN interns plan Labour Day march over pay
Interns in Geneva brandish banners seeking pay. Photo: Geneva Interns Association (detail)

UN interns plan Labour Day march over pay

Interns working for Geneva-based international organizations are planning a march through the city on Labour Day (Friday) to protest against unpaid internships at the United Nations and other employers. READ  

Central bank records massive losses for Q1
Photo: AFP

Central bank records massive losses for Q1

Massive losses in currency exchange holdings led to the Swiss National Bank losing 30 billion francs in the first quarter of 2015, the central bank reported in interim results on Thursday. READ  

Senior citizen dies in wingsuit diving accident
Photo: AFP

Senior citizen dies in wingsuit diving accident

A man in his 70s died in a wingsuit diving accident in the canton of Vaud on Wednesday, police said. READ  

Federer heads to quarters in Istanbul Open
Photo: Ozan Kose/AFP

Federer heads to quarters in Istanbul Open

World number two Roger Federer on Wednesday eased past fellow 33-year old, the Finn Jarkko Nieminen, with a dominant display to reach the quarterfinals of the Istanbul Open tennis tournament. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Municipality of Zermatt bans taking selfies with Saint Bernard dogs
Business & Money
Salt (formerly Orange) aims to shake up Switzerland's mobile market
National
Switzerland tops 2015 world 'happiness index' developed by UN
National
French president Hollande basks in good vibes from first Swiss visit
National
New book: Swiss architect Le Corbusier was 'out-and-out fascist'
Features
Tasty street food catches on in biggest Swiss cities
Sport
Invasion of frogs forces early end to Zurich football game
National
New ranking downgrades the 'power' of Switzerland's passport
Features
Swiss hotel management schools serve up 'world best' recipe
National
Segways win approval for operation on Swiss bicycle lanes
National
Joan Baez and Sting in lineup for this summer's Paléo music festival
National
Second CERN club skier dies from avalanche in Valais Alps
Sport
Lausanne and IOC celebrate a century of Olympism
National
Bern waters down criteria for beer that can be labelled ‘Swiss’
National
Internet giant Google named most attractive employer in Switzerland
National
VIDEO: Swiss television satire clip ridicules Americans on ski slopes
National
Immigration remains top election issue for Swiss voters: opinion poll
National
Environmental bureau ranks Zurich first among Europe's 'sootfree cities'
National
Zurich crane-climbing stunt by teenager flags 'roofer' concerns
Education
THE ranks EPFL among seven 'fastest rising young universities'
Features
Mobility takes off as young urban Swiss catch the car-sharing bug
Business & Money
Ethical Coffee Company aims to beat Nespresso in home market
National
Use of temporary staffing continues to rise in Switzerland
Features
Six steps for expats to get along better with the Swiss
National
Swiss foreign affairs minister touted as candidate for top UN job
National
One of Switzerland's most celebrated artists dies in Lucerne at 106
Business & Money
Swiss luxury brand Tag Heuer announces plans for smartwatch
National
Valais lights up 13 mountain peaks for 200th anniversary
Business & Money
Switzerland to avoid recession this year: Credit Suisse forecast
Business & Money
Europe's tallest hotel pitched for Swiss mountain village
National
Exlusive interview: surviving Swiss cousin remembers Anne Frank
National
New Credit Suisse chief executive 'offers hope for Africans'
Business & Money
American expat to make way for African as Credit Suisse CEO
Features
Top tips to help you find an apartment in Switzerland
National
Rising Swiss gender pay gap above European Union average
National
Political deal reached to enact Swiss holiday home restrictions
National
Optimism drives this year's Geneva International Motor show
National
Robust Swiss economy beats forecasts for 2014: government
Sport
Federer scores upset win against Djokovic for seventh Dubai title
National
Swiss train in collision near Zurich ignored stop signal: SBB
Technology
Switzerland best in world for per capita European patent filings
Education
New EPFL building to showcase art and science 'under one roof'
National
Same-sex marriage supported by most Swiss: opinion polls
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

4,656
jobs available
?>