In Switzerland, the position of president is ceremonial. Switzerland’s executive is led jointly by all seven members of the Federal Council, known as les sept sages (the seven wise ones) by French speakers.
Every year, the government issues a photo of the Federal Council. This year the photo (below) presents the executive as a group of musicians.
From left to right: Walter Thurnherr (Federal Chancellor), Viola Amherd (defense minister), Guy Parmelin (economics and education minister), Alain Berset (interior minister), Simonetta Sommaruga (transport, energy and environment minister and 2020 president), Ignazio Cassis (foreign minister), Ueli Maurer (finance minister) and Karin Keller-Sutter (justice and police minister).
The ceremonial role of the president rotates annually among Federal Council members. In addition to the diplomatic duties of the president, he or she chairs Federal Council meetings and has the tie-breaker vote on contentious decisions.
This year the role of president passes to Simonetta Sommaruga, Switzerland’s minister of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communication, a role she’s held since 2019.
The 59-year old became a public figure while working for the consumer protection association Stiftung für Konsumentenschutz from 1993 to 1999. In 1998 she became a member of the Köniz municipal council before becoming a National Council member in 1999 and a member of the Council of States in 2003. She was also Switzerland’s president in 2015.
Sommaruga is a member of the Socialist Party (SP/PS) and was elected a member of the Federal Council in 2010. Before politics she trained as a pianist and studied English and romance language literature and culture at Fribourg University in Switzerland.
Born in the canton of Zug, she grew up in Aargau and now lives in Köniz in the canton of Bern.