Ahead Of Her Time?

Sexual politics bar a female lawmaker from a seat in the Swiss Cabinet

BY UNWRITTEN RULE, THE VACANCY IN SWITZERland's seven-member Federal Council, or Cabinet, could be filled only by a Social Democrat from a French-speaking canton. Member of parliament Christiane Brunner, 46, not only met those criteria but also represented a major labor constituency in the metal and watchmaking industries. No matter. Brunner's bid to become the second woman ever to hold Cabinet rank was scuttled by the overwhelmingly male parliament, apparently because of sexual politics.

An anonymous smear campaign accused Brunner of having had an illegal abortion, a matter on which she refused comment, and of having been photographed in the nude,...

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