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  Switzerland’s 18 living ex-presidents: a political record
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ContributorIndyGeorgia 
Last EditedIndyGeorgia  Jan 01, 2019 01:54pm
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CategoryPerspective
AuthorThomas Stephens
News DateWednesday, December 5, 2018 12:15:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionFrance, Britain and the United States all have four, Germany has only one. Switzerland, however, has 18 members of the “Living Former Presidents Society”. What does this record say about the country’s political stability and leadership?

Very little. It’s largely a trick question. Switzerland’s unique rotating one-year presidency can’t be compared with the head of government in any other country (the chancellor in Germany and prime minister in Britain).

Did you know, for example, that the Swiss president never pays a state visit?

The Swiss president is neither the head of state nor the head of government. The seven-person cabinet, also known as the federal council, is considered a collective head of state and government. The president might be “primus inter pares” – the first among equals – but he or she doesn’t have any greater power than the rest of the cabinet.

What’s more, during their year in office presidents remain head of their department. Alain Berset, for example, is both president and home affairs minister in 2018.

It’s one for all and all for one: the cabinet does everything together, from taking a stance on policies to signing treaties and receiving visiting heads of state (although not all seven ministers are always present).
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