Council of States
First Vice President
Thomas Hefti, FDP/PLR
30 November 2020
Second Vice President
Brigitte Häberli-Koller, The Centre
30 November 2020
|Government parties (41)|
|Federal Palace of Switzerland, Bern|
The Council of States (German : Ständerat, French : Conseil des États, Italian : Consiglio degli Stati, Romansh : Cussegl dals Stadis) is the upper house of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland, with the National Council being the lower house. It comprises 46 members.
Twenty of the country's cantons are represented by two Councillors each. Six cantons, traditionally called "half cantons", are represented by one Councillor each for historical reasons. These are Obwalden, Nidwalden, Basel-Stadt, Basel-Landschaft, Appenzell Ausserrhoden and Appenzell Innerrhoden.The Councillors serve for four years, and are not bound in their vote to instructions from the cantonal authorities.
Under the Swiss Federal Constitution, the mode of election to the Council of States is left to the cantons, the provision being that it must be a democratic method. All cantons now provide for the councillors to be chosen by popular election, although historically it was typically the cantons' legislatures that elected representatives to Bern. However, eligibility to vote varies according to the applicable cantonal law. One notable variation is that qualified foreigners may vote in Neuchâtel and Jura,and the minimum voting age is 16 in Glarus.
In all the cantons except Appenzell Innerrhoden the councillors are elected concurrently with the members of the National Council. In Appenzell Innerrhoden the representative is elected by the popular assembly ( Landsgemeinde ) during the April before the national vote.
With the exception of the cantons of Neuchâtel and Jura , which have proportional representation, councilors of state are elected by majority vote in either one or two rounds of voting.
In debates, councilors can choose any of the federal languages, usually the one they are most proficient in: German, French, Italian, or Romansh.German (High German) and French are the most frequently used.
Issues before the council pass with a majority of the votes cast. The president of the council typically does not vote, unless there is a tie. In three cases, votes require a majority of the council members in order to pass, emergency legislation, votes on subsidies, guarantees, or any expenditure of more than 20 million CHF on a non-recurring basis, or 2 million CHF on a recurring basis. In any case, where a majority of the council is required, the president of the council will vote.
Until 2014, votes in the chamber were conducted with members raising their hands to be counted. After Politnetz, a Swiss political information platform, recorded a 2012 vote regarding an import ban on reptile skins, it found that the official vote count differed from what was shown in the video.In what was called "Stöckligate", Politnetz, shows that several votes on the matter all resulted in miscounts. (The name Stöckligate refers to a colloquial name for the Council of States. A stöckli is a second home built on a farm for the elder farmer after the property has been deeded to the heirs. The name is applied to the chamber as it is viewed as having older members than the National Council.). As a result of the affair, council member This Jenny introduced a bill to require electronic voting.
Since 1 March 2014, votes in the Council of states are conducted electronically with a tally shown on electronic display boards. The rule changes also allowed for disclosure of how members voted. The recorded votes are made public for votes on overall bills, final votes, or votes that require a qualified majority. Names and votes will be published if 10 members make the request.
Council members earn a base salary of 26,000 CHF per year plus a 440 CHF per diem for attending sessions of the council or the committees. Members also receive 33,000 CHF per year for staff and material expenses. Members also receive food, travel and hotel allowances and a pension contribution. The Swiss government estimates that a member typically receives 130,000 to 150,000 CHF per year.
|Christian Democratic People's Party (CVP/PDC)||Christian democracy||15||15||13||13||13|
|FDP.The Liberals (FDP/PRD)||Classical liberalism||14||12||11||13||12|
|Social Democratic Party (SPS/PSS)||Social democracy||9||9||11||12||9|
|Swiss People's Party (SVP/UDC)||National conservatism||8||7||5||5||6|
|Green Party (GPS/PES)||Green politics||2||2||1||5|
|Green Liberal Party (GLP/PVL)||Green liberalism||1||2|
|Conservative Democratic Party (BDP/PBD)||Conservatism / Economic liberalism||1||1|
The Council of States represents the federal nature of Switzerland: seats are distributed by state (canton), not by population. Most cantons send 2 representatives, while the historic half-cantons; Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Obwalden, Nidwalden, Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landshaft, each send one.Consequently, the number of people represented by a single seat in the Council of State varies by a factor of 45.8, from 15,000 for the half-canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden to 733,050 for each of the two seats for the canton of Zurich.
|Abbr||Canton||Seats||Population ¹||per seat||²|
Notes: ¹ Population data from 2015 (). ² Relative representation compared to Zürich.
The four national languages of Switzerland are German, French, Italian and Romansh. German, French and Italian maintain equal status as official languages at the national level within the Federal Administration of the Swiss Confederation, while Romansh is used in dealings with people who speak it. In some situations, Latin is used, particularly as a single language to denote the country.
The 26 cantons of Switzerland are the member states of the Swiss Confederation. The nucleus of the Swiss Confederacy in the form of the first three confederate allies used to be referred to as the Waldstätte. Two important periods in the development of the Old Swiss Confederacy are summarized by the terms Acht Orte and Dreizehn Orte.
Appenzell Innerrhoden is one of the 26 cantons forming the Swiss Confederation. It is composed of six districts. The seat of the government and parliament is Appenzell. It is traditionally considered a "half-canton", the other half being Appenzell Ausserrhoden.
Each of the 26 modern cantons of Switzerland has an official flag and a coat of arms. The history of development of these designs spans the 13th to the 20th centuries.
Landammann, is the German title used by the chief magistrate in certain Cantons of Switzerland and at times featured in the Head of state's style at the confederal level.
The Swiss Confederation comprises the 26 cantons of Switzerland.
This local electoral calendar for the year 2010 lists the subnational elections held in 2010 in the de jure and de facto sovereign states. By-elections and sub-national referendums are also included.
Women in Switzerland gained the right to vote in federal elections after a referendum in February 1971. The first federal vote in which women were able to participate was the 31 October 1971 election of the Federal Assembly. In 1991 following a decision by the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, Appenzell Innerrhoden (AI) became the last Swiss canton to grant women the vote on local issues; AI is the smallest Swiss canton with c. 14,100 inhabitants in 1990.
The German-speaking part of Switzerland comprises about 65 percent of Switzerland.
Federal elections were held in Switzerland on 26 October 1851. The Radical Left remained the largest group in the National Council, winning 78 of the 120 seats.
Federal elections were held in Switzerland on 29 October 1854. The Radical Left remained the largest group in the National Council, winning 80 of the 120 seats.
Federal elections were held in Switzerland on 28 October 1857. The Radical Left remained the largest group in the National Council, winning 80 of the 120 seats.
Federal elections were held in Switzerland on 28 October 1860. Despite large losses, the Radical Left remained the largest group in the National Council, winning 64 of the 120 seats.
Federal elections were held in Switzerland on 25 October 1863. The Radical Left remained the largest group in the National Council, but lost its majority for the first time since 1848.
Federal elections were held in Switzerland on 28 October 1866. The Radical Left remained the largest group in the National Council.
Federal elections were held in Switzerland on 31 October 1869. The Radical Left remained the largest group in the National Council.
Federal elections were held in Switzerland on 27 October 1872. The Radical Left remained the largest group in the National Council.
Federal elections were held in Switzerland on 20 October 2019 to elect all members of both houses of the Federal Assembly. This was followed by the 2019 election to the Swiss Federal Council, the federal executive, by the United Federal Assembly.
There are 26 constituencies in Switzerland – one for each of the 26 cantons of Switzerland – for the election of the National Council and the Council of States.
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