Micheline Calmy-Rey

Micheline Calmy-Rey
Micheline Calmy-Rey
Member of the Swiss Federal Council
Assumed office
1 January 2003
Preceded by Ruth Dreifuss
President of Switzerland
Assumed office
1 January 2011
Vice President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf
Preceded by Doris Leuthard
In office
1 January 2007 – 31 December 2007
Vice President Pascal Couchepin
Preceded by Moritz Leuenberger
Succeeded by Pascal Couchepin
Vice President of Switzerland
In office
1 November 2010 – 31 December 2010
President Doris Leuthard
Preceded by Moritz Leuenberger
Succeeded by Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf
In office
1 January 2006 – 31 December 2006
President Moritz Leuenberger
Preceded by Moritz Leuenberger
Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
Assumed office
1 January 2003
Preceded by Joseph Deiss
Personal details
Born 8 July 1945 (1945-07-08) (age 66)
Sion, Switzerland
Political party Social Democratic Party
Spouse(s) André Calmy
Alma mater Graduate Institute of International Studies

Micheline Anne-Marie Calmy-Rey (born 8 July 1945 in Sion, Valais) is the President of the Confederation in Switzerland, head of government. She is also Switzerland's foreign minister as head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. She has been a member of the Swiss Federal Council since 2003, and was President of the Confederation in 2007 and again in 2011. She intends to resign in December 2011.


Early life and education

Calmy-Rey was born in Sion in the canton of Valais to Charles and Adeline Rey. She received her diploma in 1963 in St. Maurice, and received a DEA degree in political science at the Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva, in 1968. In 1966 she married André Calmy. They have two children.


From 1981-1997 Calmy-Rey served as a representative in the Grand Conseil of the canton of Geneva as a member of the Social Democratic Party (PSS/SPS), and was president of the assembly during 1992-1993. She was president of the Geneva section of the party from 1986 to 1990 and again from 1993 to 1997. In 1997, Calmy-Rey was elected to the Conseil d'Etat of Geneva. In 2001 she became head of the Finance Department and president of the Conseil d'Etat.

She was elected on 4 December 2002 to the Federal Council, heading the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Calmy-Rey is the fourth woman elected to the Federal Council in history. On 7 December 2005 she was elected Vice-President of Switzerland, a post she held for the calendar year of 2006.

Calmy-Rey supports Switzerland joining the European Union and she is an Eminent Member of the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation.


On 1 January 2007 she became the second female President of the Confederation in history, the first having been her predecessor on the Federal Council, Ruth Dreifuss. She was elected as President on 13 December 2006 by 147 votes. However, by Swiss tradition, it was a foregone conclusion she would be elected. She had been the longest-serving councillor not to have been President, and had served as Vice-President for 2006.

As President of the Confederation, she presided over meetings of the Federal Council and carried out certain representative functions that would normally be handled by a head of state in other democracies, (though in Switzerland, the Federal Council as a whole is regarded as the head of state). She was also the highest-ranking official in the Swiss order of precedence, and had the power to act on behalf of the whole Council in emergency situations. However, in most cases she was merely prima inter pares, with no power above and beyond her six colleagues.

She had already handled most official visits abroad since being elected to the Federal Council; the head of the Department of Foreign Affairs traditionally carries out such visits.

Calmy-Rey was chosen as vice president for 2010, serving alongside Doris Leuthard. On 8 December 2010 she was chosen, for the second time, as President for 2011 (by 106 votes on 189, i.e. the worst result in Swiss history on such issues) --the first time two women will have held the post in succession.

Calmy-Rey speaks to United States President Barack Obama, along with Turkish and Armenian foreign ministers.

Calmy-Rey is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an International network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers whose mission is to mobilize the highest-level women leaders globally for collective action on issues of critical importance to women and equitable development.

She announced in September 2011 that she would resign from the government in the following December.[1]

Gas controversy and trade relations with Iran

Calmy-Rey was widely criticised for putting on a headscarf to meet Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on 19 March 2008.[2] Her appearance together with the Iranian leader sparked immediate negative reactions: Socialist MP Maria Roth-Bernasconi said it was "irritating that she had angered feminists in Iran". Calmy-Rey said in her defence that she was "observing protocol"[3]

Calmy-Rey also prompted controversy by attending the signing of a multi-billion dollar natural gas deal of a Swiss energy supply company with Iran.[4] The United States had complained that Switzerland was sending the wrong message when Tehran was subject to UN sanctions. Calmy-Rey pointed out that gas exports were not subject to the UN sanctions. Both the Israeli government and US-based Jewish groups criticised the deal.[5]


Much of the content of this article comes from the equivalent German-language Wikipedia article and the equivalent French-language Wikipedia article (retrieved 1 April 2006).

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Ruth Dreifuss
Member of the Swiss Federal Council
Preceded by
Moritz Leuenberger
President of Switzerland
Succeeded by
Pascal Couchepin
Preceded by
Doris Leuthard
President of Switzerland

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