Right-wing populist chosen for rotating Swiss presidency

Federal Councillors Ueli Maurer celebrates after his election as Swiss Federal President for the upcoming year in the Parliament in Bern, Switzerland, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. (Peter Schneider/Keystone via AP)

GENEVA (AP) — A top leader of Switzerland’s main right-wing populist party has been chosen to take the Alpine country’s largely ceremonial presidency next year, and two women are joining the seven-member executive body.

The Swiss government chose Ueli Maurer, 68, of the anti-immigration Swiss People’s Party, to become president in 2019. The Swiss president is simply first among seven equals on the Federal Council, and the post rotates each year among its members. He will often represent Switzerland in trips abroad.

Parliament elected Viola Amherd of the centrist Christian Democratic Party and Karin Keller-Sutter of the center-right Radical-Liberal Party as two new members of the council, bringing the number of female members to three.

They will replace Doris Leuthard and Johann Schneider-Ammann, who are leaving after many years on the council.

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