Page last updated at 11:47 GMT, Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Swiss far-right win cabinet post

Ueli Maurer is sworn in as a new minister
Ueli Maurer is a former chairman of the SVP

The far-right Swiss People's Party (SVP) has regained its place in the government as MPs elected conservative Ueli Maurer to the cabinet.

Mr Maurer emerged triumphant after three rounds of tense voting, winning the required majority of 122 votes.

He replaces outgoing Defence Minister Samuel Schmid in the seven-member cabinet - the Federal Council.

The vote comes nearly a year after controversial SVP leader Christoph Blocher was forced out the cabinet.

Mr Blocher - a billionaire industrialist with a reputation for fiery nationalism and scathing attacks on immigration - lost his seat as a justice minister in December 2007, despite his party's record success in elections earlier that year.

The SVP's election campaign was criticised as racist by the United Nations.

The run-up to the polls also saw rioting in the city of Bern, when left-wing and anarchist groups tried to disrupt an SVP rally.

All four of Switzerland's major political parties are represented in the Federal Council, in a unique system of government by consensus.

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