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Alain Berset
Alain Berset

Alain Berset (born 9 April 1972) is a Swiss politician serving as a member of the Federal Council since 2012. A member of the Social Democratic Party, he has served as head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs since his election. From 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2018, he served as President of the Swiss Confederation; at age 45, Berset was the youngest President of the Confederation since Marcel Pilet-Golaz in 1934.[1]

Before being elected to the Federal Council in 2011, he was a member of the Council of States for the canton of Fribourg (2003–2011), serving as the chamber's president during the 2008–2009 term. Berset speaks Swiss German, French, Italian, Romansh and English.[2][3]

Personal life and education

Born in Fribourg on 9 April 1972, the son of a teacher and a bookseller,[4] Berset studied political science and economics at the University of Neuchâtel, where he received a master's degree in political science in 1996 and a Ph.D in economics in 2005 with a dissertation about the role of international migration upon local working conditions.[5]

Berset is married to Muriel Zeender Berset and is the father of three children. The family lives in Belfaux, a village near Fribourg.[6]


Berset worked as assistant lecturer and researcher at the Institute for Regional Economics of the University of Neuchâtel from 1996 till 2000, when he moved to the Hamburg Institute for Economic Research for a year. In 2000 he became a member of the Constituent Assembly of the canton of Fribourg and president of its social democrat parliamentary group till 2004. He also served on the Belfaux communal parliament from 2001 to 2003. In 2002, he became strategic consultant to the Department of Economic Affairs of the canton of Neuchâtel.[7] In 2003 he was elected to the Swiss Council of States for the canton of Fribourg as a member of the Social Democratic Party becoming the youngest member of the Council of States,[8] and the party's parliamentary group's vicepresident in December 2005. He was also a member of the parliamentary assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. After his reelection in 2007, he was elected the State Council's vicepresident and served as its president during 2008/2009.[7]

On 14 December 2011, he was elected with 126 votes out of 245 to the Swiss Federal Council, the seven member Swiss government, as one of the Social Democratic Party's two official candidates to succeed head of the Department of Foreign Affairs Micheline Calmy-Rey, who had resigned from the Federal Council.[9] Berset became head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs as its former head Didier Burkhalter changed to the Department of Foreign Affairs.[10]


Berset is the author of several books and some 30 articles on economic development, migration and regional development.[11]

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