Elisabeth Kopp (born December 16, 1936) is a Switzerland politician and the first woman elected to the Swiss Federal Council (1984-1989).
Table of Contents
Born in Zurich, she completed her secondary education in Bern. She studied law at the University of Zurich. In 1957, she joined the women’s section of the Free Democratic Party of her village in Zurich. Upon completing her legal studies in 1960, she married Hans W. Kopp, a business lawyer.
In 1969 she was elected to the district council (Gemeinderat) of Zumikon, and from 1972 she served on the education council (Erziehungsrat) of the canton of Zürich. She was president of Zumikon from 1974 until her election as a federal councillor in 1984. As a member of the Free Democratic Party she served in the National Council of Switzerland from 1979 to 1984.
Swiss Federal Council
In 1984, she was nominated as a candidate by the Free Democratic Party for the Swiss Federal Council to replace Rudolf Friedrich. Due to scandal associated with her husband, the media was against her candidature initiatlly. This changed shortly before the election when other media argued that Elisabeth Kopp shoudl not be held responsible for the mistakes of her husband.
On October 2, 1984 she was elected to the Federal Council as the first woman ever in that office. She got elected with the first ballot, receiving 124 votes of 244. During her time in office she held the Federal Department of Justice and Police and was Vice-President of the Confederation shortly in 1989.
Her husband Hans W. Kopp was member of many company boards. He was vice president of Shakarchi Trading AG, among others. In September 1988, Jacques-André Kaeslin made a note about the connection of Shakarchi Trading AG with international crime. Keaslin delivered the note Renate Schwob, an employee of the Federal Department of Justice and Police, under circumstances which are not entirely clear. In October, Katharina Schoop, a personal assistant of Elisabeth Kopp, was allowed to see the note. The information was then relayed to Kopp, who phoned her husband, telling him to retire from his work at Shakarchi Trading AG.
On December 9 the Swiss newspaper Le Matin broke the news about the phone call. Elisabeth Kopp then confessed her involvement, which led to the Swiss media demanding her resignation. On December 12, 1988, Kopp announced that she would resign at the end of February 1989, insisting that she was without guilt in the matter. Pressure was raised again, and Kopp finally announced her immediate resignation on January 12, 1989.