Swiss Foreign Minister Elected President

Swiss Foreign Minister Elected President

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter was today elected president of the Alpine country for 2014, taking over from Defense Minister Ueli Maurer.

The Swiss presidency rotates every year between the seven members of the country's cross-party cabinet, with the role of the head of state largely symbolic.

Burkhalter, 53, is a member of the centre-right Liberal Radical Party and hails from the French-speaking region of Neuchatel.

The president is elected by the Swiss Parliament, where Burkhalter received 183 out of 202 votes, underlining his strong support across the country's political divides, AFP reported.

Maurer, a member of the right-wing populist Swiss People's Party, received 148 votes when he was elected in December 2012.

Members of parliament can also opt to cast ballots for other ministers even if they do not consider themselves contenders.

Burkhalter's party colleague Economy Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann received 10 votes.

Burkhalter was elected to the cabinet -- or Federal Council -- in 2009 and started out as interior minister before taking the foreign affairs portfolio in January 2012.

As foreign minister, he set a goal of boosting Switzerland's ties with the 28-nation European Union, of which it is not a member.

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