Christoph Blocher

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Cristoph Blocher

Christoph Blocher (born 11 October 1940) is a Swiss politician.

He was born in Schaffhausen and has a doctorate in jurisprudence. He is married to Silvia Blocher (née Kaiser) with three daughters and a son. He was successful as an industrialist and made a fortune in the chemical industry (EMS-Chemie). He has represented the canton of Zürich in the Swiss National Council since 1980 as a deputy of the Swiss People's Party (Schweizerische Volkspartei/Union démocratique du centre; SVP/UDC).

Blocher built his political career through campaigning for a smaller government, for a free-market economy and also against Swiss membership of the European Union and against illegal immigration. Until 2003, in addition to the Zürich's chapter of the Swiss People's Party, he lead a mass organisation, the Action for an Independent and Neutral Switzerland (Aktion für eine unabhängige und neutrale Schweiz). He has frequently been compared by his left-wing political opponents with figures such as Jean-Marie Le Pen and Jörg Haider, although his views differ strongly with Le Pen's and Haider's perceived racism and protectionist, populist economics.

The People's Party surprised everyone when it emerged as the largest party in the National Council in the Swiss election of 19 October 2003. Blocher personally topped the poll in Zurich, and became Switzerland's most prominent and controversial politician.

Since 1929, the People's Party has held a seat on the seven-member Swiss Federal Council. However, the party demanded another seat at the expense of the Christian Democrats since it was now the largest party in the four-member governing coalition and the Christian Democrats were the smallest. It nominated Blocher as its second candidate. After threats of pulling the other People's Party member, Samuel Schmid, off the council and going into opposition, Blocher was elected. His predecessor Ruth Metzler-Arnold became the third federal councillor in history not to be reelected. He heads the Federal Department of Justice and Police.

During 2004, Blocher's unconventionally unaccommodating stance towards his fellow federal councillors was the cause for speculations about the future of the swiss concordance system. He was attacked by his colleague Pascal Couchepin in an interview with the NZZ newspaper in the October 3rd Sunday edition. The ongoing controversy is also reflected in the scandal resulting from a performance by the painter Thomas Hirschhorn at the Centre Culturel Suisse in Paris on December 5, 2004. In the performance, which was supported by the publicly funded Pro Helvetia institution, where an actor pretended to urinate on an image of Blocher.

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Preceded by:
Ruth Metzler-Arnold
Member of the Swiss Federal Council
Since 2004
Succeeded by:
None (Incumbent)

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