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.
Swiss government press release (in French) – Take a 5 minute French test now
For more stories like this on Switzerland follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Reza Ganjavi says
Sommaruga has been a disaster for Swiss people’s health as her BAFU stacked the supposed health commissions with industry biased people. It owns 51% of the very entity it’s supposed to regulate!! A bad tragic joke for Swiss people’s health. Martin Röösli heading both BERENIS and Working Group’s health subsection is a part of that disaster. He has no degree in medicine or biology, and is part of the wicked ICNIRP industry sympathizers, and is on record for misrepresenting credible science. Sommaruga is a pianist with no credentials in justice or telecommunications and also under her, justice department continued its extremely biased (with exception) rotten status quo. When you don’t have competence in the subject you’re leading you’re bound to accept and be a tool of status quo. That’s not leadership!