Head of Department Didier Burkhalter

Autograph-card of the Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Didier Burkhalter
Head of Department Didier Burkhalter © FDFA/Béatrice Devènes

Didier Burkhalter, born on 17 April 1960, grew up in the village of Auvernier on the shores of Lake Neuchâtel. He obtained a degree in economics from the University of Neuchâtel. Before his move into politics, he held a number of posts in the academic world and the private sector. Mr. Burkhalter is married and father of three children.

In 1985 Mr. Burkhalter joined the Radical Democratic Party FDP (now the Liberal Democratic Party). He was secretary of the Neuchâtel branch of the party, before becoming the full-time secretary for French-speaking Switzerland within the FDP Switzerland. He served as a member of the communal parliament of Hauterive in the canton of Neuchâtel und was a member of the cantonal parliament. In 1991 he was elected to the executive (town council) of Neuchâtel, which he chaired for three legislative periods (1994/1995, 1998/1999, 2001/2002). He remained a member of the council until 2005.

In 2003 Mr. Burkhalter was elected to the National Council, and to the Council of States in 2007. During this time he has served on a number of parliamentary committees and was also a member of the Swiss delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Didier Burkhalter was elected to the Federal Council on 16 September 2009 and appointed as the head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA), a post he held until 31 December 2011. Since 1 January 2012 Mr. Burkhalter is head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).

In 2014 Mr. Burkhalter assumed the presidency of the Swiss Confederation and did hold the chairmanship of the OSCE.