Paul Cérésole

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Paul Cérésole

Paul Cérésole (born November 16, 1832 in Friedrichsdorf , † January 7, 1905 in Lausanne , resident in Vevey ) was a Swiss politician and lawyer . After a little more than ten years as a local councilor , State Councilor of the Canton of Vaud and National Council , he was elected to the Federal Council in 1870 as a representative of the liberal center (today's FDP ) . He was Federal President in 1873 and was a member of the state government until 1875. He then was director of a railway company for ten years. His son Pierre Cérésole was a well-known pacifist and founder of Service Civil International .


Studies and canton politics

He was the second of seven children of the later theology professor Auguste Cérésole and Sophie Köster. He spent the first years of his life in Friedrichsdorf in the Landgraviate of Hesse-Homburg , where his father was pastor of the Protestant parish. In 1844 the family, originally from Ceresole Alba in Piedmont , settled in Moudon . From 1845 to 1850 Cérésole attended the academy in Neuchâtel , after which he studied law at the academy in Lausanne . In 1849 he joined the Société d'Étudiants de Belles-Lettres , and a year later the Swiss Zofingerverein . After graduating with a licentiate in 1855 and brief stays in neighboring countries, he completed a legal internship with Jules Martin in Vevey , who made him a partner in the law firm in 1858.

The fluent German-speaking Cérésole received his first insight into politics in 1852 as a translator in the Council of States , to which Martin was temporarily a member. His own political career began in 1859 when he was elected to the parish legislature and shortly afterwards to the parish council of Vevey, of which he was a member until 1862. He positioned himself in the moderate wing of the liberals and, in 1861, together with Jules Eytel , the leader of the left wing of the radicals, called for a revision of the cantonal constitution, with which the power of Louis-Henri Delarageaz should be restricted. In the Constitutional Council that was subsequently elected, Cérésole campaigned in particular for freedom of religion and uniform income and wealth taxation.

In 1862 he was elected to the State Council , the Cantonal Government of Vaud. Delarageaz had been defeated and the new government was made up of moderate liberals and left radicals. Cérésole was first in front of the military department, then the justice and police department. Eytel had to resign from the government in 1863 after he was accused of campaigning for the Gotthard Railway . This also weakened Cérésole's position, as the previously disempowered radicals around Delarageaz regained influence. He resigned in 1866, was then elected to the cantonal parliament and worked as a lawyer again. Among other things, he defended Héli Freymond , on whom the last death sentence was carried out in the canton of Vaud.

Federal politics

A few weeks after his resignation as State Councilor, Cérésole ran in the National Council elections in 1866 and won the first ballot in the Vaud-East constituency . With his rhetorical talent and his knowledge of German, he immediately attracted the attention of the National Council . His council colleagues elected him in 1870 as a part-time federal judge . He devoted himself to the reorganization of this court and for this purpose drafted an organizational law for the administration of federal justice.

After the unexpected death of Victor Luffy , three groups formed in the Federal Assembly before a new Federal Council was elected . The centralists suggested Eugène Borel from Neuchâtel , the Bernese and Vaudois radicals relied on Louis Ruchonnet , the liberal center and the Catholic conservatives spoke out in favor of Cérésole. The latter received on February 1, 1870 in the second ballot 83 of 155 votes cast; Borel received 66 votes, and isolated 6 votes.

Federal Council

When he took office, Cérésole was assigned the finance department . The Franco-Prussian War put a great strain on federal finances, as five divisions had to be called up to guard the borders. In addition to the salaries, the costs for interning the 80,000-strong French Bourbaki army were added. While the first problem with borrowing could be resolved, France reimbursed the internment costs after the end of the war, after Cérésole insisted on it during negotiations. In 1872 he headed the military department .

In the debate about the total revision of the federal constitution , Cérésole took a centralist position. A particular concern for him was the basic standardization of commercial and civil law. The draft constitution, shaped by the centralists, failed in the referendum on May 12, 1872 with 50.5% no votes, whereby the canton of Vaud rejected it with a clear majority. Five and a half months later, Cérésole refused to run in his own canton for the then usual compliment vote . He justified this by saying that work on the constitutional revision would continue and that he was taking the same positions as before. These would not allow him to represent an electorate who had rejected the draft so massively. Instead, he was elected in the far more reform-minded constituency of Bern-Oberland .

In 1873, as Federal President, Cérésole headed the Political Department, as was customary at the time, and was thus also Foreign Minister. In his presidential year, the cultural war that flared up between radicals and Catholic conservatives after the First Vatican Council dominated the public debate. The Holy See created an Apostolic Vicariate in Geneva against the will of the provincial government , whereupon the Federal Council opposed any exercise of this office in Switzerland and expelled Vicar Gaspard Mermillod from the country. Pope Pius IX accused Switzerland in the encyclical Etsi multa luctuosa of having violated freedom of belief. The Federal Council reacted by breaking off diplomatic relations and expelling Nuncio Gian Battista Agnozzi. Cérésole expressly supported these measures.

From 1874, Cérésole was in front of the Justice and Police Department . While he had supported the position of the radicals as Federal President, he now successfully fought against the demand to abolish all monasteries in Switzerland. He also accepted the complaints of Bishop Eugène Lachat , who complained about discriminatory measures taken by the Bern government against the Catholic Church in the Bernese Jura . On December 7, 1875, Cérésole declared his resignation and handed over his office to his successor Numa Droz at the end of the year .

further activities

From the beginning of 1876, Cérésole worked as director of the Compagnie du Simplon railway company based in Lausanne. The construction of the Simplon line , which had stalled, was continued and completed under his leadership. In 1881 the Compagnie du Simplon merged with the Chemins de fer de la Suisse Occidentale to form the Suisse-Occidentale-Simplon . Cérésole negotiated the financing of the Simplon Tunnel with the French Minister Léon Gambetta , but the negotiations ended with no results after a change of government. Since Cérésole was unable to find other sources of funding, the Board of Directors terminated his employment contract in 1886.

In the military, Cérésole had the rank of colonel since 1870 . In 1878 he took over command of the 1st Division and from 1891 to 1898 he commanded the 1st Army Corps. He also continued his political career. He was elected to the Cantonal Parliament of Vaud in 1878, to which he belonged for another 20 years. As a reaction to emerging socialism, the radicals and moderate liberals in the canton of Vaud came together again. With the support of the radicals, Cérésole ran on February 12, 1893 in a by-election for a vacant National Council seat in the constituency of Vaud-East and prevailed against the Social Democrat Aloys Fauquez . In 1899 he resigned as a national councilor.


Web links

Commons : Paul Cérésole  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Meuwly, Steiner: Das Bundesratslexikon. P. 130.
  2. ^ Meuwly, Steiner: Das Bundesratslexikon. Pp. 130-131.
  3. a b Meuwly, Steiner: Das Bundesratslexikon. P. 131.
  4. ^ A b c Meuwly, Steiner: Das Bundesratslexikon. P. 133.
  5. ^ Meuwly, Steiner: Das Bundesratslexikon. Pp. 131-132.
  6. ^ Meuwly, Steiner: Das Bundesratslexikon. P. 132.
  7. ^ Meuwly, Steiner: Das Bundesratslexikon. Pp. 132-133.
  8. ^ Meuwly, Steiner: Das Bundesratslexikon. Pp. 133-134.
  9. ^ Meuwly, Steiner: Das Bundesratslexikon. Pp. 134-135.
predecessor Office successor
Victor Luffy Member of the Swiss Federal Council
Numa Droz