Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point
On Air
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Wednesday, December 9, 1998 Published at 11:31 GMT


World: Europe

Switzerland elects first female president

Swiss women MPs celebrate Ms Dreifuss's election

The Swiss Parliament has elected the country's first Jewish and first female president - the former Interior Minister Ruth Dreifuss.

BBC Geneva Correspondent Claire Doole says the appointment of Ms Dreifuss is a considerable personal achievement, in a country where women only got the vote in 1971 and which was the last in Western Europe to recognise Jewish rights.

Ms Dreifuss was the first woman elected general secretary of the Swiss trades union movement and only the second to take ministerial office.

Since becoming interior minister in 1993 she has covered a wide brief including environment, education and sport.

Her main legislative achievements have been in the field of women's issues. She is a vigorous defender of abortion, maternity and equal rights.


[ image: Ruth Dreifuss: Breaking down barriers]
Ruth Dreifuss: Breaking down barriers
Last week saw the birth of one of her most ambitious projects - state-paid maternity benefit.

The office of president is held for a year and is a mainly ceremonial position largely involving representing Swiss interests abroad.

However she is known as a keen supporter of Swiss membership of the European Union and the United Nations and her appointment comes at a time of heightened debate about Switzerland's international role - in particular in relation to compensation claims from holocaust victims.

Fear of rise in anti-semitism

A report published in November and commissioned by the Swiss government concluded that 10% of the population hold anti-semitic views and warned that the recent settlement between Swiss banks and representatives of Holocaust victims might encourage anti-Jewish feelings.

However, the report noted that for the first time since World War II, a genuine opposition to anti-semitism is forming.

The report was commissioned earlier this year, partly as a response to international outrage at remarks by the then Swiss President, Jean Pascal Delamurez, which were perceived as anti-semitic.



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©




Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia



Relevant Stories

24 Aug 98 | UK
Nazi gold: Pressure builds on Swiss

21 Aug 98 | Europe
Swiss bank shuns Holocaust settlement

03 Jul 98 | Europe
Swiss banks and Jewish gold





Internet Links


Swiss Federal Assembly


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Violence greets Clinton visit

Russian forces pound Grozny

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Next steps for peace

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

Trans-Turkish pipeline deal signed

French party seeks new leader

Jube tube debut

Athens riots for Clinton visit

UN envoy discusses Chechnya in Moscow

Solana new Western European Union chief

Moldova's PM-designate withdraws

Chechen government welcomes summit

In pictures: Clinton's violent welcome

Georgia protests over Russian 'attack'

UN chief: No Chechen 'catastrophe'

New arms control treaty for Europe

From Business
Mannesmann fights back

EU fraud -- a billion-dollar bill

New moves in Spain's terror scandal

EU allows labelling of British beef

UN seeks more security in Chechnya

Athens riots for Clinton visit

Russia's media war over Chechnya

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Analysis: East-West relations must shift