Growing up as the son of an engine driver in Monchaltorf, he graduated from the teacher training college in Küsnacht and was a primary school teacher. In 1936, he was a secondary school teacher in Gossau. 1947 was still Brugger any party, but was still elected by the voters of the district in the Zurich Cantonal Hinwil. He was from the beginning in the liberal faction. After twelve years of parliamentary activity Ernst Brugger in 1959 elected to the Zurich Cantonal Government. He was until 1967 Director of the Interior and Justice and then took over the Ministry of Economic Affairs. In the military, he wore the rank of Major - service chiefs in the army and the house.
Ernst Brugger was elected to the Federal Council on 10 December 1969. After eight years, he retired on January 31, 1978 back to retirement. During his tenure, the respected politicians across party lines in front of the Department of Economic Affairs.
He was President in 1974 and Vice President in 1973.