Max Petitpierre

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Max Petitpierre

Max Petitpierre (born February 26, 1899 in Neuchâtel ; † March 25, 1994 ibid) was a Swiss politician ( FDP ) from the canton of Neuchâtel . As Federal Councilor , he was Foreign Minister and held the office of Federal President three times .


After graduating from the University of Neuchâtel , Max Petitpierre was granted a lawyer license in 1922 and a notary's license in 1925, and in the same year he took over his father's office. From 1926 he taught at the University of Neuchâtel and from 1932 was professor of international civil and private law. His political career began in 1937 as a member of the Grand Council of the Canton of Neuchâtel and in 1940 as a member of the city of Neuchâtel . He represented his canton in the Council of States from 1942 to 1944 .

The United Federal Assembly elected Max Petitpierre to succeed Marcel Pilet-Golaz on December 14, 1944 in the first ballot in the Federal Council . On February 1, 1945, he took over the Federal Political Department from his predecessor and party colleague . Parliament confirmed him in office in 1947, 1951, 1955 and 1959. He was Vice President of the Federal Council in 1949 and Federal President in 1950 . Following the resignation of Vice Presidents Josef Escher and Giuseppe Lepori , he became President of the Federal Republic in 1955 and 1960. After Philipp Etter left the Federal Council, he was the oldest member of the government from 1960–1961. He resigned on June 30, 1961 for health reasons.

His hometown was Neuchâtel and Couvet . He was a member of the Zofingia . His son, Gilles Petitpierre , also became a law professor and politician.

Foreign policy

After the war, the victorious powers mistrusted Switzerland, which maintained economic relations with the German Reich until its collapse. Max Petitpierre tried to break through this foreign policy and economic isolation. After tough negotiations, the Washington Agreement was concluded with the Allies in 1946 and diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union were resumed.

Petitpierre realigned Swiss foreign policy, which was groundbreaking until the end of the Cold War and is still valid today in its main features. With the help of neutrality, Switzerland's independence should continue to be guaranteed. In contrast to economic cooperation, joining political organizations and military alliances was excluded. At the same time, solidarity should emphasize Switzerland's good offices. Switzerland therefore joined special UN agencies , provided humanitarian aid and made its first attempts at development aid.

On January 17, 1950, Petitpierre succeeded surprisingly quickly in recognition of the People's Republic of China by Switzerland. The Swiss Confederation was the fifth western country with diplomatic relations with Red China after Great Britain, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Election results in the Federal Assembly

  • 1944: Election to the Federal Council with 122 votes (absolute majority: 114 votes)
  • 1947: Re-election as Federal Council with 201 votes (absolute majority: 104 votes)
  • 1948: Election of Vice President of the Federal Council with 208 votes (absolute majority: 105 votes)
  • 1949: Election to the Federal President with 195 votes (absolute majority: 100 votes)
  • 1951: Re-election as Federal Council with 192 votes (absolute majority: 101 votes)
  • 1954: Election to the Federal President with 197 votes (absolute majority: 105 votes)
  • 1955: Re-election as Federal Council with 157 votes (absolute majority: 85 votes)
  • 1959: Re-election as Federal Council with 213 votes (absolute majority: 111 votes)
  • 1959: Election to the Federal President with 179 votes (absolute majority: 99 votes)


Web links

Commons : Max Petitpierre  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Daniel Trachsler: Petitpierre, Max. In: Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz .
predecessor Office successor
Marcel Pilet-Golaz Member of the Swiss Federal Council
1945 - 1961
Hans Schaffner