Federal Council wants to settle Vice-Chancellor Simonazzi's succession quickly

The Federal Council wants to settle the succession of Vice-Chancellor André Simonazzi, who died unexpectedly last week, as soon as possible. Simonazzi's closest colleague Ursula Eggenberger temporarily took over his functions on Wednesday.

Ursula Eggenberger takes over André Simonazzi's role on an interim basis. (Image: Keystone/Alessandro della Valle)

The new Vice-Chancellor is expected to take office in the second half of 2024, as Federal Chancellor Viktor Rossi told the media in Bern. The position will be advertised publicly. Rossi said that the criteria for the post would be defined shortly.

Election by the Federal Council

Accordingly, when asked, he did not wish to comment on the role that factors such as party affiliation or experience in the federal administration would play in the appointment of a new member. Simonazzi was a member of the SP. Rossi himself belongs to the GLP and the designated Vice-Chancellor Rachel Salzmann, who will be in office from July 1, belongs to the Center Party.

The new Vice-Chancellor will be elected by the Federal Council at the request of Chancellor Rossi. Ursula Eggenberger, born in 1962, will take over Simonazzi's functions temporarily and with immediate effect. The Federal Council has appointed her as Vice-Chancellor and Federal Council Spokesperson ad interim. As soon as Simonazzi's successor takes office, Eggenberger will resume her previous function.

Eggenberger is a proven communications specialist and has headed the Federal Chancellery's Communications Section since 2011, the Federal Council wrote. She is Simonazzi's closest colleague. She is now responsible for attending Federal Council meetings and chairing the Federal Council's media conferences.

Without Simonazzi

The Federal Council had previously held its weekly meeting in Simonazzi's absence for the first time in a long time. Federal Councillors Albert Rösti and Beat Jans also had to appear before the media on Wednesday without Simonazzi's moderation. After their introduction, the interim Federal Council spokesperson Eggenberger sat at the table.

Federal Chancellor Rossi paid tribute to Simonazzi as "the great absentee in the room". Simonazzi had chaired the Federal Council's media conferences for 15 years and had worked in the interests of the institutions and the Federal Council as a body, consolidating cooperation. He left behind solid foundations.

Simonazzi never gave curt answers to media representatives out of disdain, Rossi continued. Rather, the deceased had acted out of a sense of duty and wanted to enable the Federal Council to make unbiased decisions. Sometimes silence was also appropriate.

Funeral service planned in Bern

The 55-year-old Vice-Chancellor Simonazzi died unexpectedly last week on a hike (Werbewoche.ch reported). A funeral service will be held for him in Bern on May 24. A delegation from the Federal Council and the Federal Chancellor will attend.

Simonazzi was appointed Vice-Chancellor and Speaker of the Federal Council in November 2008. From January 1, 2009, he also attended government meetings, took minutes and handled communications.

The second Vice-Chancellor position is also currently filled on an interim basis. Jörg De Bernardi took over for Rossi in December after he was elected as the new Federal Chancellor. Rachel Salzmann will take over permanently on July 1. (SDA)

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