Swiss Elect First Woman President

Switzerland elected its first female and first Jewish president by parliament on Wednesday. Interior Minister Ruth Dreifuss will preside over the seven-member cabinet in 1999.

“We have taken up the torch of generations before us,” Dreifuss proclaimed. “For dozens and dozens of years we’ve been fighting for equality between men and women. Today we have affirmed this equality.”

Dreifuss joined the cabinet in 1993, becoming the first member from the country’s Jewish community. She is Switzerland’s second female cabinet member.

Switzerland granted women the right to vote on federal issues in 1971.

Dreifuss told Swiss television during the live election coverage, “I won’t be satisfied if I’m the last woman (president) for decades. I’m just opening the door for other women.”


New York Times - December 10, 1998

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