Swiss economics minister – and one-time YouTube sensation – Schneider-Ammann to stand down
Johann Schneider-Ammann who manages the economics portfolio in the Swiss federal government has announced he intends to stand down by the autumn of 2019 at the latest.
In an interview with the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, the 66-year-old said he would not be standing for re-election to the cabinet.
“I have a clear focus: the end of the legislative period in 2019,” Schneider-Ammann told the paper.
He is the second member of the seven-person federal government, after Doris Leuthard, to announce he won’t be standing for re-election in autumn 2019.
The former industrialist, who comes from Langenthal in the canton of Bern, has served in the cabinet since 2010 and held the one-year rotating presidency in 2016.
The Liberal Radical (FDP) party minister said his goals on joining the government had been to ensure full employment, retain industry in Switzerland and help his party out of decline.
Today, employment is higher than ever before, Swiss industry is strong and the FDP is again on the rise, Schneider-Ammann said.
As economics minister he had to deal with unpopular dossiers, such as agricultural reform, and the impact on industry of the strong Swiss franc.
The minister’s key success is seen as being the free-trade agreement signed with China in 2013.
Schneider-Ammann, who is not the most charismatic of the cabinet members and tends to come across awkwardly in televised interviews, has consistently been named as one of the least popular members of the government.
His speech to mark Ill-health Day in 2016 failed so spectacularly that it became a YouTube hit with 96,000 views.
In it, Schneider-Ammann talked about the importance of laughter – with a totally straight face.
Indeed when Schneider-Ammann met then US President Barack Obama a few weeks later, Obama joked that he recognized the Swiss minister from his “laughter” video.