Ueli Maurer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ueli Maurer
Official portrait in 2022
President of Switzerland
In office
1 January 2019 – 31 December 2019
Vice PresidentSimonetta Sommaruga
Preceded byAlain Berset
Succeeded bySimonetta Sommaruga
In office
1 January 2013 – 31 December 2013
Vice PresidentDidier Burkhalter
Preceded byEveline Widmer-Schlumpf
Succeeded byDidier Burkhalter
Vice President of Switzerland
In office
1 January 2018 – 31 December 2018
PresidentAlain Berset
Preceded byAlain Berset
Succeeded bySimonetta Sommaruga
In office
1 January 2012 – 31 December 2012
PresidentEveline Widmer-Schlumpf
Preceded byEveline Widmer-Schlumpf
Succeeded byDidier Burkhalter
Head of the Department of Finance
In office
1 January 2016 – 31 December 2022
Preceded byEveline Widmer-Schlumpf
Succeeded byKarin Keller-Sutter
Head of the Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports
In office
1 January 2009 – 31 December 2015
Preceded bySamuel Schmid
Succeeded byGuy Parmelin
Member of the Swiss Federal Council
In office
1 January 2009 – 31 December 2022
Preceded bySamuel Schmid
Succeeded byAlbert Rösti
Member of the Swiss National Council
In office
25 November 1991 – 31 December 2008
Parliamentary groupSwiss People's Party
Chairman of the Swiss People's Party
In office
27 January 1996 – 1 March 2008
Preceded byHans Uhlmann
Succeeded byToni Brunner
Personal details
Born (1950-12-01) 1 December 1950 (age 72)
Wetzikon, Zürich, Switzerland
Political partySwiss People's Party
Anne-Claude Peter
(m. 1976)
Residence(s)Hinwil, Zürich

Ulrich "Ueli" Maurer (Swiss Standard German: [ˈʊlrɪç ˈmaʊrər]; born 1 December 1950)[1] is a Swiss politician who served as a Member of the Swiss Federal Council from 2009 to 2022. A member of the Swiss People's Party (SVP/UDC), he was President of the Swiss Confederation in 2013 and 2019. Formerly head of the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports (2009–2015), Maurer has headed the Federal Department of Finance from 2016 to 2022. From 2019 to 2022, he was the longest-serving sitting member of the Federal Council.

An accountant by occupation, Maurer chaired the Swiss People's Party from 1996 to 2008.[2] Elected by the Swiss Federal Assembly to succeed Federal Councillor Samuel Schmid in 2008, he took office on 1 January 2009. Maurer served as Vice President of Switzerland for 2012 and 2018 and President of Switzerland for 2013 and 2019.[3] He was reelected to the Federal Council in 2011, 2015 (when his party gained one seat) and 2019 (an election which saw all members of the Federal Council reelected).

Personal background and professional career[edit]

Maurer grew up as the son of a poor farmer in the Zürcher Oberland.[4][5] After a commercial apprenticeship, Maurer received a federal accountant's diploma. He was director of the Zürich Farmers' Association from 1994 to 2008 and president of the Swiss Vegetable Farmers' Association and the Farmers' Machinery Association (Maschinenring) until his election to the Federal Council.

Maurer is married and has six children and currently resides in Hinwil in the canton of Zürich. He served in the Swiss Army with the rank of major,[6] commanding a bicycle infantry battalion.[7]

Political career[edit]

Cantonal politics[edit]

From 1978 to 1986, Maurer was a member of the municipal government of Hinwil. He was elected to the cantonal parliament of Zürich in 1983, which he presided over in 1991. In that year, he lost an election to the cantonal government against Moritz Leuenberger, as his opponents derided Maurer's campaign as inept and himself as a naïve devotee of party strongman Christoph Blocher.[5] In the same year's national election, though, Maurer was elected to the National Council.

National career and party leadership[edit]

In 1996, at Blocher's behest,[5] Maurer was elected to the presidency of the Swiss People's Party. Not taken seriously at first[5][8] and parodied by TV comedian Viktor Giacobbo as Blocher's servile sycophant[5][9] so memorably that his taunted children regularly returned from school in tears,[9] his presidency saw the party double its voter base, establish itself in the French-speaking part of Switzerland and become the country's strongest political party.[4] These successes have been largely credited to Maurer's leadership, who was able to make up a lack of charisma with hard work, the imposition of strict party discipline, a keen sense for promising populist issues (such as opposition to European integration, foreigners and political correctness)[5] as well as a penchant for headline-grabbing soundbites, as attested by an often-cited statement of his: "As long as I talk of negroes, the camera stays on me".[10][11]

As president of the People's Party, Maurer was a leading force behind the party's aggressive and successful populist campaigns – campaigns that drew the ire of the Swiss political mainstream and the concern of foreign observers[12] – signing off on cartoonish posters attacking leftists, foreigners and other undesirables.[10] In a breach with Swiss political etiquette, he did not shy away from direct personal attacks on fellow politicians, labeling the center-right Free Democrats as "softies", Social Democratic voters as deranged, and renegade Federal Councillors Schmid and Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf as "appendices" requiring excision.[9] Nonetheless, Maurer was able to keep his public persona separate from the way his colleagues in Parliament perceived him. In the National Council, his personal stature grew during his service and even political opponents credited his personal integrity, collegial demeanour and solid grasp of political issues.[10] His good professional relations with Social Democratic women representatives were particularly noted by puzzled political observers.[9]

Even as his and his party's star rose, however, relations between Maurer and his longtime mentor Blocher slowly cooled,[9] even though the two men remained strong allies in public. Blocher, used to exercising authoritarian leadership as the party's undisputed leading figure, did not approve of Maurer questioning some of his strategic approaches, and increasingly exercised power through a close-knit circle of followers instead of through Maurer and the party secretariat.[9] In October 2007, after the People's Party won its greatest electoral victory to date, Maurer resigned as party president and was succeeded against his wishes[4][9] by Toni Brunner, one of Blocher's close confidants, on 1 March 2008.[13] After losing a runoff election for a Council of States seat against Verena Diener,[14] Maurer contented himself with the presidency of the Zürich section of the People's Party.[15]

Swiss Federal Council[edit]

2013 Swiss Federal Council
2019 Swiss Federal Council

On 27 November 2008, the party's parliamentary group unanimously nominated both Maurer and Blocher as candidates to succeed Schmid as Federal Councillor.[2] With Blocher – who was ousted from the Federal Council in 2007 – considered unelectable by all other parties,[2] the Neue Zürcher Zeitung and other Swiss media called Maurer the clear frontrunner for the Council seat even before his nomination.[9] On 10 December 2008 Maurer was elected to the Federal Council in the third round of voting with 122 votes, a margin of a single vote.[16]

Maurer was elected Vice President of Switzerland for 2012, alongside President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf.[17] On 5 December 2012 he was elected President of the Swiss Confederation for 2013.[17][18]

Maurer with US President Donald Trump at the White House in 2019

Maurer was reelected as Federal Councillor on 8 December 2015; on 11 December 2015 he was selected to become head of the Federal Department of Finance, with newly-elected Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, a fellow member of the SVP/UDC, replacing him as head of the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports.[19][20] As Switzerland's Finance Minister, Maurer attended the 2017 G20 Hamburg summit, becoming the first Federal Councillor to attend a G20 summit.[21][22][23]

Maurer became President of the Swiss Confederation for a second time for 2019 after serving as vice president under Alain Berset in 2018.[24] On 29 April 2019, during his visit in China, Maurer signed a Memorandum of Understanding under the Belt and Road Initiative.[25][26] On 16 May 2019, Maurer met President Donald Trump in the White House, becoming the first Swiss President to meet a United States President in that location.[27][28] The two discussed several issues, including Iran and a potential free trade agreement.[29][30][31]

On 20 September 2022 Maurer announced his resignation, effective 31 December.[32][33]

Later career[edit]

On 1 January 2023, Maurer joined the ethics committee of the International Olympic Committee.[34]


  1. ^ Eidgenössische Bundeskanzlei: Der Bund kurz erklärt, Seite 63. Erschienen 2009.
  2. ^ a b c "Maurer joins Blocher in race for cabinet seat". Swissinfo. 27 November 2008. Archived from the original on 15 May 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2008.
  3. ^ "Ueli Maurer élu président de la Confédération". 5 December 2018 – via www.letemps.ch.
  4. ^ a b c "Main parties undergo shake-up after elections". Swissinfo. 26 October 2007. Retrieved 27 November 2008.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Vonarburg, Verena (26 October 2007). "Vom Unterhund zum Wolf im Schafspelz" (in German). Tages-Anzeiger. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2008.
  6. ^ Biography of Ueli Maurer on the website of the Swiss Parliament.
  7. ^ "Major Maurers Marschbefehl" (in German). Tagblatt. 29 November 2008. Retrieved 30 November 2008.
  8. ^ "Ueli Maurer – Unterwegs im Dienste der Partei" (in German). Berner Zeitung. 27 November 2008. Retrieved 27 November 2008.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Benini, Francesco (23 November 2008). "Der Favorit: Ueli Maurer ist erster Anwärter für die Nachfolge Schmids im Bundesrat" (in German). Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Archived from the original on 17 December 2008. Retrieved 27 November 2008.
  10. ^ a b c Cavelty, Gieri; Szöllösy, Gaby (25 November 2008). "Maurer: Der Scharfmacher kann durchaus angenehm sein" (in German). Berner Zeitung. Retrieved 27 November 2008.
  11. ^ In the original German: «Solange ich Neger sage, bleibt die Kamera bei mir.»
  12. ^ Jordan, Frank (1 September 2007). "Swiss Expulsion Proposal Draws Criticism". Washington Post. Retrieved 28 November 2008.
  13. ^ "People's Party elects new leader". Swissinfo. 1 March 2008. Retrieved 27 November 2008.
  14. ^ "Rightwing party unable to consolidate gains". Swissinfo. 25 November 2007. Retrieved 27 November 2008.
  15. ^ "Wir sind die einzige noch verbleibende bürgerliche Partei". nzz.ch. 7 August 2008.
  16. ^ Photo-finish vote puts Maurer in cabinet. swissinfo.ch, 10 December 2008. Accessed 17 December 2008.
  17. ^ a b "Maurer to Become Swiss president". Swissinfo. 5 December 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  18. ^ Keiser, Andreas (1 January 2013). "President Stresses Swiss Unity but EU Separation". Swissinfo. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  19. ^ "Ueli Maurer wird Finanzminister". Neue Zürcher Zeitung (in German). 11 December 2015. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  20. ^ "People's Party finally nails finance minister job". Swissinfo. 11 December 2015. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  21. ^ "Swiss Join Discussions on Financial Priorities at G20". Swissinfo. 7 July 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  22. ^ "Ueli Maurer am G20-Gipfel". Luzerner Zeitung (in German). 2 July 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  23. ^ ""Hier werden wir ernst genommen"" (in German). Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen. 8 July 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  24. ^ "Ueli Maurer – an old, new Swiss president". Swissinfo. 1 January 2019. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  25. ^ Stephens, Thomas. "Swiss president strengthens economic ties with China - SWI". Swissinfo.ch. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  26. ^ Stephens, Thomas (26 April 2019). "Swiss president defends controversial Chinese project". Swissinfo. Retrieved 8 June 2019.
  27. ^ "Trump to receive Swiss president in White House". Swissinfo. 16 May 2019. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  28. ^ Jacobi, Isabelle (16 May 2019). "Maurer wird heute von Trump empfangen". Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  29. ^ Shalal, Andrea (16 May 2019). "Trump open to talks on U.S.-Swiss free trade deal: Swiss president". Reuters. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  30. ^ "Trump discusses economic relations and 'good offices' with Swiss president". Swissinfo. 16 May 2019. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  31. ^ Mills, George (17 May 2019). "Swiss president on Trump: 'You could get along with him'". The Local. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  32. ^ "«J'ai un œil qui pleure et un œil qui rit»: Ueli Maurer se retire du Conseil fédéral". Le Temps (in French). 30 September 2022. ISSN 1423-3967. Retrieved 24 October 2022.
  33. ^ Pillard, Benjamin (1 October 2022). "Maurer débranche, pressé de redevenir le «Ueli normal»". 24 heures. pp. 1–3.
  34. ^ "Ueli Maurer entre à la commission d'éthique du CIO". rts.ch (in French). 18 January 2023. Retrieved 23 April 2023.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Member of the Swiss Federal Council
Succeeded by
Head of the Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports
Succeeded by
Preceded by Vice President of Switzerland
Succeeded by
President of Switzerland
Head of the Department of Finance
Succeeded by
Preceded by Vice President of Switzerland
Succeeded by
President of Switzerland