• Switzerland's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Introducing... Doris Leuthard

Lyssandra Sears · 4 May 2012, 11:12

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
Swiss helicopter crash: technical fault ruled out
Two pilots died in the crash on the Gotthard pass. Photo: Michael Buholzer/AFP

Technical failure was not to blame for the crash involving a Swiss army helicopter on the Gotthard pass on Thursday.

Turkey angry after Swiss tout ‘kebab ban’
Is banning the burqa as 'foolish' as banning the kebab? Photo: Jason Ramos

Turkish kebab chefs are up in arms after they misunderstood a spoof campaign to ban the kebab in Switzerland.

Study: Swiss ski resorts are losing their snow
Snow was thin on the ground in Gstaad last December. Photo: The Local

Could spring skiing soon be a thing of the past?

UBS fined $15m for misselling investments
File photo: Martin Abegglen

The Swiss private banking giant is accused of selling risky derivative investments to inexperienced investors in the US.

Two dead in Swiss army helicopter crash
The crash happened near the hospice on the Gotthard pass. File photo: swiss-image.ch/Heinz Schwab

Two people died and one other was injured when a helicopter crashed on the Gotthard pass in the Swiss alps on Wednesday.

Bern wants Swiss women to work longer
File photo: Candida Performa

The lower house of parliament has voted to extend women's retirement age by one year to 65.

11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
The Swiss - don't make them wait in the cold. Photo: Lara de Salis

Swiss student Lara de Salis, currently studying in the UK, explains why she’s sick of hearing foreigners spouting these old clichés.

Switzerland still world’s ‘most competitive’ nation
Switzerland: still enjoying the view from the top. File photo: Robert Boesch

Switzerland has topped the World Economic Forum’s annual competitiveness ranking for the eighth consecutive year.

Swiss hunting season claims human lives
The hunting season started ten days ago. File photo: Umberto Nicoletti

Several hunters have died in accidents over the past few days.

Sacked Fifa executive hits back in Zurich court
Kattner was sacked in May. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Fifa's disgraced former secretary general Markus Kattner has begun legal action to challenge his "unjustified" sacking.

Sponsored Article
7 tips for learning Swiss French
Photo: AFP
National
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
National
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Photo: File
Politics
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Education
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
Photo: AFP
Society
Swiss ‘slave children’ to finally get compensation
Photo: Jan Geerk/Swiss-image.ch
Lifestyle
Zurich named ‘greenest’ city on the planet
Photo: Swiss
National
Brawl over seats forces Swiss to abort flight
Photo: Daniel Stockhammer
Culture
Research shows typical Swiss chalets ‘not actually Swiss’
Photo: AFP
National
Switzerland to get nationwide disaster alert system
Photo: S3
National
Swiss space firm boss left badly injured in violent attack
Photo: ETH Zurich
Education
ETH Zurich crowned best uni in continental Europe – again
File photo: Martin Abegglen
National
Report: Swiss citizenship rules leave some stateless
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
National
Fatal crash: pilot told to fly below safe altitude
Photo: Peter Linke
Business & Money
Elderly Italian on benefits stashed €1m in Swiss bank
Photo: Stuart Richards
Society
Court sides with chickens in dispute over noisy henhouse
Photo: SAC
Lifestyle
Hiking: 7 incredible Swiss Alpine Club cabins
Photo: David Abercrombie
National
Swiss politician arrested over illegal entry of migrants
Photo: Coiffure X
National
Chewbacca stolen in ‘terrorist attack’ on Swiss hair salon
Photo: AFP
National
Foreigners in Switzerland surpass 2 million mark
Photo: AFP
National
Expert predicts major quake for Switzerland by 2040
Photo: The Local
National
Geneva runs out of permits for non-EU workers
Photo:C Carlstead
National
Geneva advises teachers on religion in school
4,379
jobs available