Africa Asia Europe North America South America Oceania
You are here: Home > Europe > Switzerland

The political system in Switzerland

Following the constitution of 1874, most recently amended in 2000, Switzerland is a Confederate republic. The regime is democratic, but not parliamentary. Switzerland's political system is considered one of the most stable in the world.

Legislative power

Legislative, appropriating - and in some respects, executive power has been added to the popularly elected Federal Assembly (ty. Bundesversammlung, fr. Assemblé Fédérale). This consists of two equal chambers, a stenderrĺd (Ständerat/Conseil des États) and a National Council (Nationalrat/Conseil National).

Political System of Switzerland

The Standing Council has 46 members, elected according to slightly different rules for four years, two from each canton and one from each canton. The National Council has 200 members; they are chosen for four years from relatively equal circles and according to the ratio principle. The Standing Council, which is not elected by the population, is often given a slightly different and more conservative composition than the National Council. Federal laws must be passed by both chambers.

The voting age is 18 years. The women first got the right to vote in 1971 at national elections. At the cantonal level, female suffrage was introduced at various times, but from 1991 - after a decision in the Supreme Court of Switzerland - general female suffrage was also at local elections in Switzerland. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how SZ can stand for Switzerland.

By constitutional and legislative amendments, referendums can be held. Voters are also given the opportunity to initiate constitutional amendments. In this way, Switzerland has a stronger element of direct democracy than any other western country.

Executive power

The government, called the Federal Council (Bundesrat / Conseil Fédéral), is elected by the overall Federal Assembly according to proportionate principles. The Federal Council has seven members who each manage their own ministry. The Federal Assembly elects from among the seven, for one year at a time, two members who hold the functions of the country's president and vice-president. The Assembly also appoints a Chancellor and a Vice-Chancellor, both of whom attend the Federal Council, but without voting rights. Although the Federal Council is responsible to the Federal Assembly, it is stuck for the four years for which it has been elected.

Switzerland is regionally, linguistically and religiously heterogeneous. However, when the country has been so politically stable, it is because of the highly decentralized system that allows each group to largely control itself.

Administrative division

From 1815 the country was divided into 22 cantons, three of which were later divided into half cantons. The number of cantons increased in 1979 to 23, when the French-speaking and Catholic region of Jura gained canton status after, among other things, a referendum in all the cantons of the country. The cantons have their own constitutions and extensive internal autonomy. The legislative authority is usually assigned to elected regional assemblies; the government is mostly elected directly by the electorate. At the level of the canton, direct democracy also plays an important role through referendums. In some cantons, voters themselves constitute the legislative assembly.

At the local level, the municipalities (Gemeinde) have considerable self-government. Only the largest cities have elected assemblies. In the other municipalities, political decisions are made directly at voter meetings. This is an appropriate scheme in many parts of the country on the basis of the many very small municipalities; the smallest municipalities have a population of only 20-30 inhabitants.

Up to the turn of the millennium, Switzerland had around 3,000 municipalities. In recent years, however, the number of municipalities - according to local decisions - has been reduced somewhat, and by the turn of the year 2016/17 the country had 2,255 municipalities. Canton Glarus has gone farthest in the reduction in the number of municipalities. The largest number of municipalities has the cantons Bern and Vaud, with 352 and 318 respectively.

Judiciary

The judiciary is mainly a cantonal issue. However, there is a federal federal court of 30 members, elected for six years by the Federal Assembly. The Chief Justice is elected from among the judges for two years by the Federal Assembly; they cannot be re-elected. The cantons have slightly different court systems.

Other Countries in Europe

Politics eZine Copyright 1999 - 2020 All Rights Reserved