Josef Zemp

Josef Zemp ( born September 2, 1834 in Entlebuch, † December 8, 1908 in Bern ) was a Swiss politician. From 1863 to 1891 he was a member of the Grand Council of the Canton of Lucerne, from 1871 to 1872 the Council of States. In Parliament he sat from 1872 to 1876 and from 1881 to 1891. In 1887 he was National President. In December 1891 Zemp was elected as the first representative of the Catholic Conservatives ( today's CVP) in the Federal Council. He was the first member of the Swiss government, which did not belong to the previously single ruling liberal- radical faction. During his tenure, the repurchase of private railway companies and the founding of the Swiss Federal Railways fall.


Study and Canton policy

Zemp was the eldest of eleven children of a grocer and court clerk from Entlebuch. There he attended primary and secondary school, then he went to the Grammar School in Lucerne. At the Ruprecht -Karls University in Heidelberg and at the Ludwig- Maximilians- University in Munich, he studied law. Zemp was A.V. the fraternity Semper Fidelis to Lucerne, 1857/58 he served as President of the Swiss Central Student Association. After receiving his doctorate in 1859, he returned to his birthplace and hometown Entlebuch and opened a law office there.

1860 married Zemp Philomena Widmer from Emmen, from this marriage were 15 children were born. In 1863 he was elected to the Grand Council of the Canton of Lucerne and this was as a member of the Catholic- conservative faction (later the Catholic Conservative People's Party and today's CVP) until 1891. He reformed the civil law constitution and reached that of the canton ceded the right to occupy the pastors to the congregations.

Federal policy

In July 1871, the election Zemps in the Council of States, but of which he was only one and a half years followed. From December 1872 to October 1876 and again from December 1881 to December 1891 Zemp was a member of the National Council. From 1881 to 1885 he was leader of the Catholic Conservatives, 1887, he briefly served as National President.

At the beginning of the 1880s, he tried to bring together the conservative Catholic associations of the individual cantons to firmer led the whole of Switzerland, " Catholic Union ," but he failed with this project at cantonal self-interest ( this was achieved only in 1912, four years after Zemps death). He managed to finish the predominant since the Kulturkampf obstructionist policies of the Catholic Conservatives against the Liberals and bring his faction to a real political price. This he received bipartisan praise.


After the people had clearly rejected the repurchase of the Central Railway on December 6, 1891, went postal and railway minister Emil Welti back immediately. The Liberals were able to prevent a government crisis by offering a seat in the Federal Council the Catholic Conservatives and thus gave up their claim to sole representation. The Group agreed on Zemp as official candidates. He was elected to Welti's successor on December 17, 1891 in the first round of voting in which he gained 129 of 154 valid votes. The choice Zemps to the Federal Council forced the Catholic Conservatives to break away from the purely oppositional politics and to assume government responsibility. Parts of the group criticized the new course sharp.

At the beginning of 1892 took Zemp Postal and railway department. As a parliamentarian, he was still against the nationalization of the railways, but as he took a Federal change of heart and created the legal basis for the repurchase. The antietatistische wing of the conservative Catholic group made ​​fierce resistance and took the referendum against the buyback law. But the people took on February 20, 1898 presentation to a large majority. Finally, the Swiss Federal Railways were established on 1 January 1902.

1902 Zemp was President and took over for a year the Political Department ( in his first year as president in 1895, the usual rotation principle had been suspended, so that he had to make any temporary department change). In 1894 he was 1907, the new Federal Act on the Organisation of telephone and enforce the introduction of the controversial Central European Time, Telegraph Administration. He also prepared the revision of the Postal Law, which was however only in 1910 completed under his successor. For health reasons, Zemp resigned on 17 June 1908. Four and a half months later, he died at the age of 72 years.