Swiss finance minister to step down, leaving cabinet seat sought by nationalists

GENEVA – The Swiss finance minister says she’s resigning from Switzerland’s seven-member executive body following legislative elections in which a nationalist party trounced her smaller conservative party.

After nearly eight years on the Federal Council, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf says she’ll step down by year-end in the wake of the Oct. 18 electoral victory of the anti-immigration Swiss People’s Party, to the detriment of her conservative BDP party.

Wednesday’s move by Widmer-Schlumpf, who held the rotating Swiss presidency in 2012, opens the prospect that the People’s Party will regain a second seat on the council. The party claims it is entitled to the seat according to an unwritten ‘magic formula’ meant to ensure all major parties are represented in the country’s executive.

The incoming Swiss legislature will choose the council’s composition on Dec. 9.