Council of States (Switzerland)

Last updated

Council of States

Ständerat  (German)
Conseil des États  (French)
Consiglio degli Stati  (Italian)
Cussegl dals Stadis  (Romansh)
Swiss Council Logo.svg
Type
Type
Leadership
Alex Kuprecht, SVP/UDC
30 November 2020
First Vice President
Thomas Hefti, FDP/PLR
30 November 2020
Second Vice President
Brigitte Häberli-Koller, The Centre
30 November 2020
Structure
Seats46
Switzerland Council of States 2019.svg
Political groups
Government parties (41)
  •   The Centre 13
  •   FDP/PLR 12
  •   SP/PS 9
  •   SVP/UDC group

Other parliamentary parties (5)

Elections
Last election
October–November 2019
Meeting place
Bundeshaus - Standeratssaal - 001.jpg
Federal Palace of Switzerland, Bern
Website
http://www.parliament.ch/

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. [1]

Contents

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. [2] The Councillors serve for four years, and are not bound in their vote to instructions from the cantonal authorities.

Elections

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, [3] 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. [4]

Working languages

In debates, councilors can choose any of the federal languages, usually the one they are most proficient in: German, French, Italian, or Romansh. [5] German (High German) and French are the most frequently used.

Voting

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. [6]

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. [7] In what was called "Stöckligate", Politnetz, shows that several votes on the matter all resulted in miscounts. [8] (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.). [9] As a result of the affair, council member This Jenny introduced a bill to require electronic voting. [7]

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. [10]

Membership

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. [11]

Seats by party

Seats by party at the Council of States of Switzerland (2003-2019)
PartiesIdeology 2003 2007 2011 2015 2019
Christian Democratic People's Party (CVP/PDC) Christian democracy 1515131313
FDP.The Liberals (FDP/PRD) Classical liberalism 1412111312
Social Democratic Party (SPS/PSS) Social democracy 9911129
Swiss People's Party (SVP/UDC) National conservatism 87556
Green Party (GPS/PES) Green politics 2215
Green Liberal Party (GLP/PVL) Green liberalism 12
Conservative Democratic Party (BDP/PBD) Conservatism / Economic liberalism 11
Independent Independent 111
Total4646464646

Population per seat

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. [2] 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 SeatsPopulation ¹per seat² 
ZH Zurich 21,466,100733,0501.0
BE Berne 21,017,200508,6001.4
VD Vaud 2773,200386,6001.9
AG Aargau 2653,500326,7502.2
BL Basel-Landschaft 1283,200283,2002.6
SG St. Gall 2499,000249,5002.9
GE Geneva 2484,400242,2003.0
LU Lucerne 2398,700199,3503.7
BS Basel-Stadt 1191,800191,8003.8
TI Ticino 2351,900175,9504.2
VS Valais 2335,600167,8004.4
FR Fribourg 2307,400153,7004.8
TG Thurgau 2267,400133,7005.5
SO Solothurn 2266,400133,2005.5
GR Grisons 2196,60098,3007.5
NE Neuchâtel 2178,10089,0508.2
SZ Schwyz 2154,10077,0509.5
ZG Zug 2122,10061,05012.0
AR Appenzell Ausserrhoden 154,50054,50013.5
NW Nidwalden 142,40042,40017.3
SH Schaffhausen 279,80039,90018.4
OW Obwalden 137,10037,10019.8
JU Jura 272,80036,40020.1
GL Glarus 240,00020,00036.7
UR Uri 236,00018,00040.7
AI Appenzell Innerrhoden 116,00016,00045.8
Overall468,325,200180,9834.1

Notes: ¹ Population data from 2015 ( [12] ). ² Relative representation compared to Zürich.

Notes and references

Notes

    See also

    Related Research Articles

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    Federal elections were held in Switzerland on 28 October 1866. The Radical Left remained the largest group in the National Council.

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    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.

    References

    1. "The Council of States" (official site). Berne, Switzerland: The Swiss Parliament. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
    2. 1 2 "Member of the Council of States by Canton" (official site). Berne, Switzerland: The Swiss Parliament. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
    3. "Gemeinden und Kantone mit Stimm- und Wahlrecht für Ausländer". www.bfs.admin.ch (in German). Bundesamt für Statistik. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
    4. "Elections 2015:How the elections to the Council of States are organised: process, rules and principal stages". ch.ch – A service of the Confederation, cantons and communes (official site). Berne, Switzerland: The Swiss Confederation. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
    5. "Art. 8 Bundesversammlung, SR 441.1 SpG (Bundesgesetz über die Landessprachen und die Verständigung zwischen den Sprachgemeinschaften)" (official site) (in German, French, Italian, and Romansh). Berne, Switzerland: The Swiss Federal Council. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
    6. "Lexikon of Parliamentary Terms". Parliament of Switzerland. Retrieved 7 August 2020.
    7. 1 2 "Jenny fordert neue Abstimmung über elektronische Stimmabgabe". Tages Anzeiger (in German). 12 October 2012.
    8. "Politnetz darf weiter im Ständerat filmen – vorerst". Blick (in German). 10 December 2012.
    9. Adrian Vatter (29 June 2018). Das politische System der Schweiz (in German). Nomos Verlag. p. 342.
    10. "Standing Orders of the Council of States". Government of Switzerland. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
    11. "Salary of the members of parliament". Swiss Confederation. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
    12. Population data 2015 Archived 5 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine accessed 28 July 2016

    Bibliography