The Federal State

Switzerland is a multi-ethnic, multilingual and multi-confessional nation shaped by the will of its people. It has been a federal State since 1848.

Political structure of Switzerland

Under the Federal Constitution, the Swiss people are the supreme political authority. This supreme authority comprises all adult men and women who hold Swiss citizenship and are over the age of 18. Foreign nationals have no political rights at federal level. Switzerland is a federal state: powers are apportioned between the Confederation and its member states, the cantons, and the Confederation and cantons decide jointly on this division of powers according to the majority principle. The principal structural elements of the state (the legislature, executive, and judiciary) are found both in the Confederation and in its member states, and their existence is protected by the Constitution. Federalist Switzerland is organised in three political levels, the Confederation, the cantons and the communes.



Switzerland has a two-chamber parliament: The National Council and the Council of States, together referred to as the Federal Assembly, constitute the legislative power in the federal state. The National Council represents the population as a whole, the Council of States the individual cantons.


The federal council

The Swiss government consists of the seven members of the Federal Council who are elected by the United Federal Assembly for a four-year term. The President of the Swiss Confederation is elected for just one year and is regarded as Primus inter pares, or first among equals during that time. He chairs the sessions of the Federal Council and untertakes special ceremonial duties. Federal Chancellor Corina Casanova acts as the Federal Council's chief of staff.



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