Federal Assembly (Switzerland)

Last updated

Federal Assembly

Swiss Council Logo.svg
Houses Council of States
National Council
President of the Council of States
President of the National Council
46 Council of States
200 National Council
Switzerland Council of States 2019.svg
Council of States political groups
  •   CVP/PDC 13
  •   FDP/PLR 12
  •   SP/PS 9
  •   SVP/UDC 6
  •   Greens (GPS/PES) 5
  •   Independent 1
Suisse Conseil national 2019.svg
National Council political groups
Council of States last election
24 November 2019
National Council last election
20 October 2019
Meeting place
Bundeshaus - Nationalratsratssaal - 001.jpg
Federal Palace of Switzerland, Bern

The Federal Assembly (German : Bundesversammlung, French : Assemblée fédérale, Italian : Assemblea federale, Romansh : Assamblea federala) is Switzerland's federal legislature. It meets in Bern in the Federal Palace.


The Federal Assembly is bicameral, being composed of the 200-seat National Council and the 46-seat Council of States. The houses have identical powers. Members of both houses represent the cantons, but, whereas seats in the National Council are distributed in proportion to population, each canton has two seats in the Council of States, except the six 'half-cantons', which have one seat each. Both are elected in full once every four years, with the last election being held in 2019.

The Federal Assembly possesses the federal government's legislative power, along with the separate constitutional right of citizen's initiative. For a law to pass, it must be passed by both houses. The two houses may come together as a United Federal Assembly in certain circumstances, such as to elect the Federal Council (the head of government and state), the Federal Chancellor, the federal judges or (only in times of great national danger) a general.


The Federal Assembly was created in 1848, with the rise of Switzerland as a federal state. The previous central institution was the Federal Diet of Switzerland.


The Federal Assembly is made up of two chambers:

Seats in the National Council are allocated to the cantons proportionally, based on population. In the Council of States, every canton has two seats (except for the former "half-cantons", which have one seat each).

United Federal Assembly

On occasions the two houses sit jointly as the "United Federal Assembly" (German : Vereinigte Bundesversammlung, French : Assemblée fédérale, Chambres réunies, Italian : Assemblea federale plenaria, Romansh : Assamblea federala plenara). This is done to:

The United Federal Assembly is presided by the National Council's presidency.

The Federal Assembly also confirms the appointment of the Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (appointed by the Federal Council). [1]


Parties can cooperate in parliamentary groups, allowing smaller parties access to rights as part of a caucus. At least five members from the same Council are needed to form a group. Only informal groups exist in the Council of States. Members of the National Council are required to be in a formal group in order to be able to sit on a committee. [2]

Since March 2009, there have been six groups in the Federal Assembly. The latest group to form was the Conservative Democratic Party which split off the Swiss People's Party in 2008. The Christian Democrats/EPP/glp Group (CEg) was formed after the 2007 elections, out of the former Christian Democratic (C) and EPP (E) groups. The current FTP/Liberal group (RL) was formed in 2003 out of the former FDP (R) and Liberal (L) groups; since the 2009 fusion of the Free Democrati and Liberal Parties, RL is once again a single-party group. In 2011, the CEg was disbanded, the Green Liberals formed their own parliamentary group (GL) and the three Christian parties formed the Christian-Evangelical Group (CE).

Currently (for the legislative period of 2019–2023), the six parliamentary groups are composed as follows:

People's parliamentary group (V) Swiss People's Party 53662
Ticino League 10
Federal Democratic Union 10
Independent 01
Social Democrats parliamentary group (S) Social Democratic Party 39948
Centre parliamentary group CVP-EVP-BDP (M-CEB) Christian Democratic People's Party 251344
Conservative Democratic Party 30
Evangelical People's Party 30
FDP.The Liberals parliamentary group (RL) FDP.The Liberals 291241
Green parliamentary group (G) Green Party 28535
Swiss Party of Labour 10
solidaritéS 10
Green Liberal parliamentary group (GL) Green Liberal Party 16016

See also

Notes and references

  1. Federal Act on Data Protection of 19 June 1992 (status as of 1 January 2014), Federal Chancellery of Switzerland (page visited on 18 September 2016).
  2. "Parliamentary groups". www.parlament.ch. Retrieved 11 December 2019.


Related Research Articles

Politics of Switzerland Political system of Switzerland

Switzerland is a semi-direct democratic federal republic. The federal legislative power is vested in the two chambers of the Federal Assembly, the National Council and the Council of States. The Federal Council holds the executive power and is composed of seven power-sharing Federal Councillors elected by the Federal Assembly. The judicial branch is headed by the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, whose judges are elected by the Federal Assembly.

Chancellor is a title of various official positions in the governments of many nations. The original chancellors were the cancellarii of Roman courts of justice—ushers, who sat at the cancelli or lattice work screens of a basilica or law court, which separated the judge and counsel from the audience. A chancellor's office is called a chancellery or chancery. The word is now used in the titles of many various officers in various settings. Nowadays the term is most often used to describe:

Federal Council (Switzerland)

The Federal Council is the seven-member executive council that constitutes the federal government of the Swiss Confederation and serves as the collective head of state and government of Switzerland. It meets in the west wing of the Bundeshaus in Bern.

National Council (Switzerland) Lower house of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland

The National Council is the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland, the upper house being the Council of States. With 200 seats, the National Council is the larger of the two houses.

Council of States (Switzerland) Upper house of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland

The Council of States is the smaller chamber of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland. It is considered the Assembly's upper house, with the National Council being the lower house. It comprises 46 members.

2003 Swiss federal election

Federal elections were held in Switzerland on 19 October 2003. Although in Switzerland's political system, in which all four major parties form a coalition, it is very difficult to achieve a change of government, this election produced an upset with the strong showing of the right-wing, anti-European Union and anti-immigration Swiss People's Party. The left-wing parties, the Social Democrats and the Greens, also improved their positions. The losers were the parties of the centre and centre-right, the Christian Democratic People's Party and the Free Democratic Party.

Green Party of Switzerland Swiss political party

The Green Party of Switzerland is the fourth-largest party in the National Council of Switzerland and the largest party that is not represented on the Federal Council.

Christian Democratic Peoples Party of Switzerland Political party in Switzerland (CVP/PDC/PPD)

The Christian Democratic People's Party of Switzerland was a Christian-democratic political party in Switzerland. On January 1, 2021, the party merged with the Conservative Democratic Party of Switzerland (BDP) to form The Centre, which will operate at the federal level. The party will continue to exist at the cantonal level as individual local and regional parties determine their status.

Free Democratic Party of Switzerland

The Free Democratic Party or Radical Democratic Party was a liberal political party in Switzerland. Formerly one of the major parties in Switzerland, on 1 January 2009 it merged with the Liberal Party of Switzerland to form FDP.The Liberals.

Evangelical Peoples Party of Switzerland

The Evangelical People's Party of Switzerland is a Protestant Christian-democratic political party in Switzerland, active mainly in the Cantons of Bern, Basel-Land, Basel-Stadt, Aargau and Zürich. "Evangelical" translates as evangelisch, the German term for "Protestant", as opposed to "evangelical" as used in Anglo-Saxon Christianity.

Elections in Switzerland gives information on election and election results in Switzerland.

Alain Berset 97th President of the Swiss Confederation

Alain Berset is a Swiss politician serving as a Member of the Swiss Federal Council since 2012. A member of the Social Democratic Party (SP/PS), he has served as head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs since his election.

Federal Palace of Switzerland

The Federal Palace refers to the building in Bern housing the Swiss Federal Assembly (legislature) and the Federal Council (executive). It has a total length of more than 300 metres (980 ft) consisting of a central assembly building and two wings housing government departments and a library. The name in German and Romansh both mean "federal house", whereas the French and Italian names both translate to "Federal Palace". The Latin word curia originates from Ancient Rome and originally meant an assembly, and later used for where the Roman Senate met, both meanings being relevant to the Federal Palace.

Voting in Switzerland is the process by which Swiss citizens make decisions about governance and elect officials. The polling stations are opened on Saturdays and Sunday mornings but most people vote by post in advance. At noon on Sunday, voting ends and the results are usually known during the afternoon.

The Green Liberal Party of Switzerland, abbreviated to glp, is a centrist green-liberal political party in Switzerland. Founded in 2007, the party holds sixteen seats in the Federal Assembly as of the October 2019 election.

Conservative Democratic Party of Switzerland

The Conservative Democratic Party of Switzerland is a political party in Switzerland. Since the 2019 general election, the BDP has three members in the National Council.

The Christian Democrats/EVP/glp Group, abbreviated to CEg, was a centrist parliamentary group of three parties in Switzerland's federal legislature, the Federal Assembly, between 2007 and 2011.