Alain Berset elected Swiss president for 2018

AFP/The Local
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Alain Berset elected Swiss president for 2018
Alain Berset will be the youngest Swiss president in a century. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The Swiss parliament on Wednesday elected interior minister Alain Berset to serve in the largely symbolic position of president next year, making him the youngest to hold the post in a century.


The choice of the 45-year-old member of the Socialist Party from Fribourg came as no surprise, since it was his turn among the seven members of the Swiss government -- the Federal Council -- to take on the rotating one-year presidency.
Berset, who has been a member of the government since 2011, was voted through with the support from 190 voters out of a total 210 approved ballots, underlining strong support across the country's political divides.
He will replace energy and transport minister Doris Leuthard of the Christian Democrats at the helm of the government on January 1st.
"It is a great honour and a great responsibility," Berset told parliament after the vote, delivering his message in all four of Switzerland's official languages (German, French, Italian and Romansh).
His election with such a high proportion of the vote was hailed by all parties.
MP Jean-Francois Rime from the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) told 20 Minutes the socialist "would represent our country well, both here and abroad. 
"It's a demonstration of the cohesion of our country," said Liberal-Radical Christian Luscher.
"There are lots of parties and they clash sometimes, but they know to prioritize our institutions and show the world that we have a united Federal Council, elected by all."
Ueli Maurer of the SVP was elected vice-president. 
The Swiss president is considered the 'first among equals' and has no more powers than his or her peers in the seven person Federal Council. However the president is expected to chair government meetings and has special duties to represent Switzerland when necessary, in addition to his duties as head of a government department. 


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