Introduction to Switzerland‟s politicalsystem Politics of Switzerland function in structure of multi-party federal parliamentarydemocratic republic, while Federal Council is head of government. Executive power is executed by government and federal administer; it is notconcentrated in any specific individual. Federal legislative power is exercised both in government and two chambers ofFederal Assembly of Switzerland (Bundesversammlung; Assemblée fédérale;Assemblea federale; Assamblea federala). Judiciary is independent of executive and legislature. Referendum is compulsory for any change or modification in constitution;referendum can be demanded for any change or modification in a law. Through use of referenda, citizens may defy any law voted by parliament and byuse of initiatives introduce amendments to federal constitution, makingSwitzerland closer than any state in the world to direct democracy.
Government of Switzerland Government: Federal republic,directorial system and directdemocracy Federal Council:◦ Doris Leuthard◦ Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf (Pres. 12)◦ Ueli Maurer (VP 12)◦ Didier Burkhalter◦ Simonetta Sommaruga◦ Johann Schneider-Ammann◦ Alain Berset Federal Chancellor: CorinaCasanova
Indirect and direct democracy As in all democracies, citizens in Switzerland elect representatives in their owninterest. However, Switzerland also grants its citizens the opportunity to take direct part indecision-making. Although direct democracy is in no way unique to Switzerland (Italy and manystates of the United States are among those who likewise grant voters significantdecision-making role), Swiss political system is probably more extensive than anyin the world. Swiss citizens may offer legislation of their own, or thwart legislation alreadypassed by parliament; the only instance in which parliament may overrule thisright is if it decides that the proposal being considered is unconstitutional, or if itinfringes international law.
Executive Branch: The FederalCouncil Federal Council (Bundesrat; Conseil fédéral;Conseil fédéral), government ofSwitzerland, has seven members; a differentmember is elected Federal President everyyear. Federal President (Bundespräsident(in);Président(e) de la Confédération; Presidentedella Confederazione; President(a) da laConfederaziun) exercises no special powersor privileges; the president simply continuesto run his or her own department. Switzerland‟s four largest parties arerepresented in council. Federal Council is helped and informed onoperation of its business by FederalChancellery. Chancellor attends weekly cabinet meetingsin consultative capacity; is sometimesnicknamed “Eighth councillor”. Federal Councillors are much more availablethan their counterparts in most nations. Swiss people are used to seeing themtravelling around with tram or in train just likeanyone else – much to astonishment of manyforeign security officials escorting leaders onstate visits; people can speak to them withoutbeing removed by security guards.
Federal Assembly ofSwitzerland Switzerland‟s federal parliament. Convenes in Bern in Federal Palace. Bicameral assembly; made up of 200-seatNational Council and 46-seat Council ofStates, two houses that have identicalpowers. Members of both houses represent cantons,but while seats in National Council areadministered relative to population, everycanton has two seats in Council of States(Ständerat; Conseil des Etats; Consiglio degliStati; Consiglio degli Stati) with the exceptionof six „half-cantons‟, which have one seateach. A law must be passed by both houses for it topass. In specific conditions, which includes electingFederal Council, Federal Chancellor, General(Swiss generals are only chosen in times ofgreat national danger), or federal judges.
Political parties represented in FederalCouncil (government parties) Free Democratic Party* (Freisinnig-Demokratische Partei, FDP; Parti radical-démocratique, PRD; Partito liberale-radicale,PLR; Partida liberaldemocrata svizra, PLD) Social Democratic Party, or Democratic Union ofthe Centre (Sozialdemokratische Partei derSchweiz, SP; Parti socialiste suisse, PS; PartitoSocialista Svizzero, PS; Partida Socialdemocrata,PS) Christian Democratic Party(Christlichdemokratische Volkspartei der Schweiz,CVP; Parti Démocrate-Chrétien, PDC; PartitoPopolare Democratic, PPD; PartidaCristiandemocratica, PCD) Swiss People‟s Party (SchweizerischeVolkspartei, SVP; Union démocratique du centre,UDC) Conservative Democratic Party of Switzerland(Bürgerlich-Demokratische Partei Schweiz, BDP;Parti Bourgeois Démocratique Suisse, PBD;Partito Borghese Democratico Svizzero, PBD;Partida Burgais Democratica Svizra, PBD)◦ *Dissolved party
Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf Member of Swiss Federal Council since 1 January2008 and current President of Switzerland since 1January 2012. Born 16 March 1956 in Felsberg. Also directs Federal Department of Finance(Swiss finance minister). Is married and has three children. Is daughter of ex-federal councillor LeonSchlumpf. Second federal councillor whose father served insame office, after Eugène Ruffy, and sixth womanto be elected to Swiss Federal Council. Acquired her degree in law at University of Zurich(Universität Zürich) in 1981 and her LLD in 1990. Worked as lawyer from 1987-1998. Was elected to district court of Trin in 1985;presided over it from 1991-1997. Was cantonal legislative of Grisons from 1994-1998; was elected to cantonal government as firstwoman in 1998, and acted as president twice: firstin 2001 and again in 2005.
Corina Casanova Current Federal Chancellor of Switzerland(Bundeskanzler(in); Chancelier(-ière)fédéral(e); Cancelliere(-a) dellaConfederazione; Chancelier(a) federal(a)). Born 4 January 1956 in Ilanz. Worked as lawyer in practice of ex-Presidentof Swiss Federal Supreme Court, GiusepNay, and Red Cross delegate in countriessuch as South Africa, Angola, Nicaragua andEl Salvador. Also serves as federal parliamentary officialand advisor to Federal Councillors Flavio Cottiand Joseph Deiss, both of ChristianDemocratic People‟s Party. Elected to office of Vice-Chancellor by SwissFederal Assembly in August 2005; thatassembly elected her to office of Chancellor,in December 2007, in course of 2007 FederalCouncil election. Was assigned by Swiss Federal Councilmember of directional committee forelectronic government in Switzerland. Member of Christian Democratic People‟sParty and speaks six languages: Romansch,German, French, Italian, English, andSpanish.
FDP. The Liberals Classical liberal political party. Joint-biggest party in Federal Council, third-biggest in National Council, and second-biggestin Council of States. Formed on 1 January 2009 as merger of FreeDemocratic Party (FDP) and smaller Liberal Party;these two parties maintain separate organizationsin Vaud and Valais. Its youth organization is Young Liberals. Has most members of any Federal Councilparty, with 130,000 members as of 2010 (30%more than CVP, second-placed party). Member of Liberal International and Alliance ofLiberals and Democrats for Europe Party. Its leader is Fulvio Pelli. Current FDP representatives are Didier Burkhalterand Johann Schneider-Ammann.
Social Democratic Party ofSwitzerland Largest centre-left political party inSwitzerland. Founded on 21 October 1888; currentlysecond biggest of four leading coalitionparties in Switzerland. Left-most party with representatives in SwissFederal Council; also second biggest politicalparty in Swiss parliament. Current SP members in Swiss FederalCouncil are Alain Berset and SimonettaSommaruga. Largest pro-European party in Switzerlandand favors Switzerland‟s membership in theEuropean Union, contrary to most Swisspolitical parties. Full member of Socialist International andassociate member of Party of EuropeanSocialists.
Swiss People‟s Party Also known as Democratic Union of the Centre. National conservative and right-wing populist political party. Chaired by Toni Brunner, but headed by Christoph Blocher;biggest party in Federal Assembly, with 54 members ofNational Council and five of Council of States. Founded on 22 September 1971 by merge of Party ofFarmers, Traders and Independents (BGB) and DemocraticParty, whereas BGB was founded on background ofemerging native farmers‟ parties in late 1910s. Originally did not see any increased support outside that ofBGB, and remained at only about 11% of the vote throughout1970s and 1980s; this changed, in contrast, during 1990s,when the party experienced deep structural and ideologicalchanges under inspiration of Christoph Blocher, making theparty strongest party in Switzerland by 2000s. In line with reforms led by Blocher, the party began toconcentrate gradually more on issues like euroscepticismand opposition to immigration. Currently has 54 seats in Federal Assembly; its vote share of29% in the 2007 Federal Council election was the highestknown vote for one party in Switzerland. Subsequent to Blocher‟s failed re-election as FederalCouncillor in 2007, the party‟s moderates split off andfounded the Conservative Democratic Party (BDP). Is not a member of any European political party, but rathersits alongside the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats forEurope in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council ofEurope (PACE).