Swiss Greens fail to enter government despite election gains

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GENEVA (AP) — Switzerland’s Green party failed Wednesday in a bid to enter the country’s government even after it made significant gains in an election in October.

The left-leaning party claimed the right to a seat on the seven-member governing Federal Council after concerns about climate change helped it win over 13% of the vote to become the fourth-biggest in parliament.

Switzerland has an unusual, consensus-oriented political system. Four parties ranging from the center-left Social Democrats to the right-wing populist Swiss People’s Party, the country’s strongest, are represented on the Federal Council. Swiss voters also have a direct say on policy issues in referendums several times every year.

Green chairwoman Regula Rytz on Wednesday challenged Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, whose pro-business Liberals finished only slightly ahead of her party in the election but have two seats in the government. But she was defeated by a margin of 145 to 82 in a vote in parliament.

That wasn’t a surprise since only one of the governing parties, the Social Democrats, said ahead of Wednesday’s parliamentary session that it would support Rytz.

Political change tends to be gradual in Switzerland and it is very unusual, though not unheard of, for sitting ministers to be voted off the Federal Council.

All of the current ministers were re-elected. The country’s presidency rotates between the seven members of the Federal Council on an annual basis.

Lawmakers on Wednesday elected Simonetta Sommaruga, the environment and transport minister, to serve as president in 2020. Finance Minister Ueli Maurer is this year’s president.

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