Switzerland: Government

Swiss Confederation Flag
Coat of Arms of Swiss Confederation

Key Figures

Chief of State: President of the Swiss Confederation Johann N. Schneider-Ammann

Head of Government: President of the Swiss Confederation Johann N. Schneider-Ammann

Overview

Government Name: Swiss Confederation

Constitution: Adopted: 1999; This is the current and third constitution. It establishes the Swiss Confederation as a federal republic of 26 cantons, contains a catalogue of individual and popular rights, establishes the responsibilities of the cantons/Confederation, and establishes the federal authorities of government.

Government Type: Confederation (similar in structure to a Federal Republic)

Main Powers Election Process Election Cycle Source: ElectionGuide, http://www.electionguide.org/
Executive

Each Federal Councilor heads a government department, much like the ministers in the governments of other countries.

President is appointed by parliament, Council of States (Standerat/Council des Etats/ Consiglio degli Stati) 6 members are elected by plurality vote in single-member constituencies and 40 members are elected by plurality vote in multi-member constituencies.

President: 1 year; Council of States: 4 years

Judicial

Hear appeals of cantonal courts or the administrative rulings of the federal administraton.

Elected by Federal Assembly.

6 years

Legislative

Possesses the federal government's legislative power, along with the separate constitutional right of citizen's initiative.

National Council (Nationalrat/Conseil National/Consiglio Nazionale) 195 members are elected by open list proportional representation in multi-member constituencies and 5 members are elected by a plurality system.

4 years

International Relations

Foreign Policy Trends: The Swiss Constitution declares the preservation of Switzerland's independence and welfare as the supreme objective of Swiss foreign policy. Below this overarching goal, the Constitution sets five specific foreign policy objectives: further the peaceful coexistence of nations; promote respect for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law; promote Swiss economic interests abroad; alleviate need and poverty in the world; and the preservation of natural resources. Switzerland (mainly Geneva) is home to many international governmental and nongovernmental organizations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (whose flag is essentially the Swiss flag with colors reversed--the Red Cross historically being a Swiss organization). One of the first international organizations, the Universal Postal Union, is located in Bern.

Regional Trade Blocs: EFTA

Treaties: No multilateral military treaties


International Organization Participation  Source: CIA World Factbook

ADB AfDB Australia Group BIS CD CE
CERN EAPC EBRD EFTA EITI ESA
FAO FATF G-10 IADB IAEA IBRD
ICAO ICC ICRM IDA IEA IFAD
IFC IFRCS IGAD ILO IMF IMO
IMSO Interpol IOC IOM IPU ISO
ITSO ITU ITUC LAIA MIGA MINUSMA
MONUSCO NEA NSG OAS OECD OIF
OPCW OSCE Pacific Alliance Paris Club PCA PFP
Schengen Convention UN UNCTAD UNESCO UNHCR UNIDO
UNITAR UNMISS UNRWA UNTSO UNWTO UPU
WCO WHO WIPO WMO WTO ZC

Note: Click table to see details


Environmental Agreements  Source: CIA World Factbook

Air Pollution Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants Air Pollution-Sulfur 85 Air Pollution-Sulfur 94 Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds
Antarctic Treaty Biodiversity Climate Change Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol Desertification Endangered Species
Environmental Modification Hazardous Wastes Law of the Sea Marine Dumping Marine Life Conservation Ozone Layer Protection
Ship Pollution Tropical Timber 06 Wetlands Whaling

Note: Click table to see details


Tax Authority: Federal Tax Administration

Tax Name: VAT


Sources:

CIA World Factbook and U.S. Bilateral Relations Fact Sheets except where stated otherwise.

Glossary