Viola Amherd becomes the first-ever female defence minister, she has been named in a major reshuffle of the Swiss Federal Council.
The unprecedented reshuffle of the country’s executive body made the way to Viola Amherd who becomes a new defence minister. She takes over the new position from Guy Parmelin who will be involved in thorny negotiations with Europe over labour rules in relation to a new Swiss-EU framework deal. In his interview to Blick newspaper, Mr Parmelin who spent three years as a defence minister noted his ministry was a “Herculean task” and that the Swiss “people there are totally resistant to reform”.
Parmelin also noted Amherd now had a chance to “tidy up” the ministry that had been led by the SVP for years. According to the ex-minister, to have a woman at the head of the defence ministry is a really good idea. Such a move definitely could help bring the ministry into the 21st century.
After the recent political reshuffle, Switzerland’s seven-member executive is divided between the country’s four political parties under the so-called concordance system where compromise is the order of the day. Two seats on the Federal Council are set aside for the Socialists, FDP and SVP, and one seat is assigned to the CVP.
Ministers generally select the ministry they wish to head up based on seniority. But the latest reshuffle required two meetings and a vote, suggesting there was plenty of jockeying for position behind the scenes.