Jean Bourgknecht

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Jean Bourgknecht

Jean Bourgknecht (born September 16, 1902 in Friborg , Switzerland ; † December 23, 1964 there , entitled to live in Friborg) was a Swiss politician ( KCV ). After completing his studies, he initially worked as a lawyer and presided over both the Bar Association of the Canton of Friborg and the Swiss Bar Association . From 1950 to 1959 he was City Mayor of Freiburg, from 1951 to 1955 he sat on the National Council and from 1956 to 1959 on the Council of States . From 1956 he was also President of the Swiss KCV (today's CVP). Bourgknecht was elected to the Federal Council in 1959 and then headed the Finance and Customs Department . Due to illness, he only stayed in office for a little more than two and a half years.


Studies, work and family

His father Louis was a renowned lawyer , his mother's name was Eugénie-Louise Wuilleret. After graduating from high school , Bourgknecht studied law at the universities of Freiburg , Bern and Vienna . After receiving his doctorate in 1926, he worked with his father for a while and eventually took over his office. He also had a teaching position at the University of Freiburg and was on the board of directors of several local companies. From 1936 to 1947 he presided over the Bar Association of the Canton of Friborg and from 1937 to 1941 also the Swiss Bar Association . His first wife, Marguerite Guhl, came from a family of industrialists and died in 1949. Two years later, Bourgknecht married the secretary Simone Modoux. The first marriage had two sons, the older son Louis later worked as a federal judge , the younger Jean-François also became a politician.

Cantonal and federal politics

Bourgknecht's political career began in 1950 when he was elected mayor of Freiburg. In this office, which he held until 1959, he succeeded in redeveloping the city's finances and thus creating the basis for expanding the infrastructure. From 1951 he was also represented in the National Council, but lost his seat four years later because his party's coalition tactics had not worked. In 1956 the Grand Council elected him instead as one of the two Freiburg representatives in the Council of States . From 1954 Bourgknecht was a member of the board of the Swiss Conservative People's Party (SKV), whereby he was more likely to belong to the Catholic-Conservative wing. After he had become party president in 1956, he strove to involve the larger Christian social wing more closely with a moderate slide to the left and thus prevent a possible split in the party. As a result, the SKV was renamed the Conservative Christian Social People's Party (KCV) in 1957.

In parliament, Bourgknecht mainly dealt with financial policy. In June 1957 he submitted a motion calling for the promotion of economically weaker cantons. The federal government should no longer pay direct subsidies, as has been the case up to now, but instead create a legally regulated financial equalization scheme between the cantons. The federal law on financial equalization passed in July 1959 was heavily influenced by Bourgknecht. On the other hand, he opposed the direct federal tax, as he feared a reduction in cantonal tax revenues. In 1958 he advocated an increase in fuel taxes to finance the construction of the motorway.

On December 17, 1959, the Federal Assembly had to fill four vacancies in the Federal Council . She elected Bourgknecht to succeed Philipp Etter , who received 134 of 233 valid votes in the first ballot. Ettore Tenchio and Roger Bonvin , two representatives of the Christian social wing, received 44 and 42 votes, respectively; other names received 13 votes. In addition to Bourgknecht, his party colleague Ludwig von Moos and the two Social Democrats Willy Spühler and Hans-Peter Tschudi were also elected. This election of four is considered to be the hour of birth of the “ magic formula ” conceived by KCV General Secretary Martin Rosenberg , which enabled the composition of the Federal Council among the four largest parties according to a fixed distribution formula and which lasted until 2003.

Federal Council

When he took office on January 1, 1960, Bourgknecht took over the management of the finance and customs department . In his work, he placed great emphasis on maintaining the financial strength of the cantons, on reluctance to accept new federal spending and on rigorous financial planning . He also endeavored to use various measures to improve the tax morale of the citizens and to limit the possibility of tax evasion . In keeping with the KCV's party program, he looked for ways to set stronger accents in tax policy, although the federal government's financial position left him little leeway. Finally, he endeavored to increase the efficiency of the federal authorities by cutting redundant positions and creating a central office for organizational issues in the federal administration, with the help of which overlapping competencies between individual federal offices should be eliminated.

In May 1962 Bourgknecht suffered a severe stroke , whereupon his health deteriorated rapidly. He could no longer announce his resignation at the end of September. The political bodies urged his wife to write a letter of resignation declaring Bourgknecht's resignation from the Federal Council at the end of September 1962. Two years later he died of an incurable disease.


Web links

Commons : Jean Bourgknecht  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Python, Ruffieux: Das Bundesratslexikon. P. 452.
  2. ^ Python, Ruffieux: Das Bundesratslexikon. Pp. 452-453.
  3. ^ Python, Ruffieux: Das Bundesratslexikon. Pp. 453-454.
  4. ^ Python, Ruffieux: Das Bundesratslexikon. P. 454.
  5. ^ Andreas Kley : Constitutional Law . Ed .: Giovanni Biaggini , Thomas Gächter , Regina Kiener . 2nd Edition. Dike Verlag, Zurich 2015, ISBN 978-3-03751-739-0 , Political Rights (§ 42), N. 60 .
  6. ^ Python, Ruffieux: Das Bundesratslexikon. Pp. 454-455.
predecessor Office successor
Philipp Etter Member of the Swiss Federal Council
Roger Bonvin