Camille Decoppet

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Camille Decoppet

Camille Decoppet (born June 4, 1862 in Suscévaz , † January 14, 1925 in Bern , resident in Suscévaz) was a Swiss politician ( FDP ), lawyer and judge . From 1900 to 1912 he was a member of the State Council of the Canton of Vaud , and from 1899 he was also a member of the National Council. From 1901 he was a member of the board of directors of the Swiss Federal Railways , from 1911 party president of the FDP. From 1912 to 1919 he was a member of the Federal Council ; During this time in the state government, he chaired three departments. After all, from 1919 until his death he was director of the International Office of the Universal Postal Union .


Study and job

He was the son of the innkeeper Henri-François Decoppet and his Nyon- born wife Philippine Alary. His brother Maurice Decoppet was later a professor of forest sciences, his cousin Lucien Decoppet President of the Cantonal Bank of Vaud and National Councilor . Camille Decoppet graduated from secondary school in Yverdon and the cantonal high school in Lausanne , which he graduated with the Matura in 1881 . He then studied law at the Lausanne Academy (predecessor of the University of Lausanne ). During his studies he was a member of the Helvetia student union , which he presided over from 1882 to 1884.

In 1886 Decoppet obtained his licentiate in law and then completed an internship with Louis Berdez . After he had the patent as a lawyer in 1888 , he opened a law firm with Alphonse Dubuis . The following year he married Emma Grandjean, whom he had known since childhood and with whom he had two children. Until 1890 and again from 1896 to 1900 he worked as a lawyer, in the years in between he worked as a public prosecutor . From 1896 to 1912 he was a substitute judge at the federal court . In addition, he held other mandates as a member of the Board of Directors , including a. at the Waadtländer Kantonalbank and the Jura-Simplon Railway . For eleven years, from 1901 to 1912, he was a member of the Board of Directors of the Swiss Federal Railways .

Decoppet also advanced his career in the Swiss Army . As a major he commanded an infantry battalion from 1898, and as a lieutenant colonel from 1901 in the 1st Infantry Regiment. He rose to the rank of colonel by 1910 and commanded the 1st territorial district.

Cantonal and federal politics

Decoppet's political career began in 1897 when he was elected to the Cantonal Parliament in Vaud , the Grand Council. In 1898 he also moved into the municipal council (legislature) of the city of Lausanne. He was a member of both councils for three years, and in 1899 he presided over the grand council. In the parliamentary elections in 1899 , he succeeded in entering the National Council in the constituency of Vaud North . In 1906/07 he was President of the National Council . In 1909 he played an important role in the negotiations for a Franco-Swiss convention that established the access lines to the Simplon Tunnel . The convention led to the construction of the Frasne – Vallorbe railway with the Mont-d'Or tunnel , with which the railway connection between Lausanne and France could be significantly shortened. In 1911/12 he was president of the nationwide FDP.

In addition to his mandate at the national level, Decoppet also remained politically active in the canton of Vaud: in 1900 he was elected to the cantonal government , the State Council. In this executive office he took over the management of the education and culture department. He reformed the legislation on primary schools and initiated a reform of the Secondary School Act. In addition, he promoted the expansion of the commercial school and campaigned for an economics faculty at the university. With the regional church law of 1910 that he designed, women were given the right to vote in church matters. After Marc Ruchet's unexpected death , his successor in the Federal Council was practically undisputed. Decoppet enjoyed an excellent reputation and the canton of Vaud's claim to a Federal Council seat was safe. On July 17, 1912, he was elected to the Federal Council in the first round with 173 out of 184 valid votes; a few people received eleven votes.

Federal Council

Until the end of the year, Decoppet headed the Department of the Interior and brought some pending legislative procedures to a conclusion. In January 1913 he took over the Justice and Police Department for one year . In this role he was mainly occupied with continuing the drafting of the penal code . In early 1914 he took over the military department . After Louis Perrier's death the previous year, he was the only French-speaking member of the Federal Council. This put him in a sensitive position after the outbreak of World War I , as the state government and the general staff were predominantly considered to be pro-German. For the election of the general , he proposed Ulrich Wille on behalf of the entire Federal Council , who had family ties to Prussia , which aroused great criticism. Although Decoppet showed total solidarity with his government colleagues, he suffered greatly from this dispute. Only after a long time did the distrust gradually disappear. As head of the military department, he had to ensure a large part of the national supply, for example with grain and feed imports. He was able to negotiate the free import of grain through the port of Sète . He modernized the army's equipment and organized the air force .

With 185 out of 188 valid votes, the Federal Assembly elected Decoppet as Federal President for 1916 . The public in French-speaking Switzerland was happy about the appreciation, but two crises overshadowed his presidential year. In January Decoppet wanted to prosecute two colonels who had supplied the German and Austro-Hungarian military attaché with daily bulletins and diplomatic dispatches. After the other Federal Councilors and the General Staff refused to do so, the criminal investigation finally came about under pressure from Parliament and the cantons of western Switzerland. Mild judgments by the divisional court in this supreme affair triggered a deep crisis of confidence - additionally burdened by Decoppet's refusal to refuse demands for Willes to be deposed. In February the General Staff prepared the transfer of German-speaking Swiss troops to French-speaking Switzerland without informing the Federal Council. After Decoppet had been inadequately informed of this in March, he had to admit to parliament on June 21 that he had been completely ignorant. Disgusted, he announced his resignation to his Federal Council colleagues; they stopped him by threatening to resign themselves.

Decoppet made several reports of the exercise of powers hoping to regain Parliament's battered confidence. In 1917 he continued the reorganization of the military, in 1918 he ordered the purchase of a piece of land for the construction of the Dübendorf military airfield . Against the national strike in November 1918, he mainly mobilized French-speaking Swiss troops; demobilization after the end of the war was slow. The newspaper L'Indépendant from Friborg was so angry that it asked him to resign in December 1918. Decoppet held out another year before announcing his imminent resignation on November 7, 1919. He handed over his office to Karl Scheurer on December 31, 1919 .

further activities

On the day the resignation was announced, the Federal Council appointed Decoppet director of the Universal Postal Union and thus the successor of Eugène Luffy, who had recently died . Disappointed that his fellow citizens did not understand that he had clung to the controversial general out of consideration for the principle of collegiality throughout the war, Decoppet did not return to Vaud, but lived secluded in Bern and concentrated on his work at the Universal Postal Union. He further expanded this international organization and presided over the Universal Postal Congress in Madrid in 1920 . On January 14, 1925, he died of a stroke .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Controversy: The Federal Council Lexicon. P. 269.
  2. ^ Controversy: The Federal Council Lexicon. Pp. 269-270.
  3. a b c dispute: The Federal Council Lexicon. P. 270.
  4. ^ Controversy: The Federal Council Lexicon. Pp. 270-271.
  5. ^ Controversy: The Federal Council Lexicon. P. 271.
  6. ^ Controversy: The Federal Council Lexicon. Pp. 271-272.
  7. ^ Controversy: The Federal Council Lexicon. P. 272.
predecessor Office successor
Marc Ruchet Member of the Swiss Federal Council
Ernest Chuard
Eugène Luffy Director of the International Office of the Universal Postal Union
Evaristo Garbani-Nerini