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Politics of Switzerland

Politics of Switzerland

Government type: federal republic

National holiday: Anniversary of the Founding of the Swiss Confederation, 1 August (1291)

Constitution: 18 April 1999

Legal system: civil law system influenced by customary law; judicial review of legislative acts, except with respect to federal decrees of general obligatory character; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
A specialty of Swiss politics is, that suffrage concerns not only elections but also voting: for any change in the constitution, a referendum is mandatory, for any change in a law, a referendum can be requested - in practice, the people has the last word in every change of law some interest group disagrees with.

Executive branch:
head of government: President of the Confederation Pascal Couchepin (since 1 January 2003); Vice President Ruth Metzler-Arnold (since 1 January 2003); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government. See also the List of Presidents of Switzerland.
cabinet: Federal Council or Bundesrat (in German), Conseil fédéral (in French), Consiglio Federale (in Italian) elected by the Federal Assembly from among its own members for a four-year term. Present members beside president and vice-president: Micheline Calmy-Rey, Joseph Deiss, Moritz Leuenberger, Samuel Schmid, Kaspar Villiger. See also: List of members of the Swiss Federal Council.
elections: president and vice president elected by the Federal Assembly from among the members of the Federal Council for one-year terms that run concurrently; election last held NA Decembre 2002 (next to be held NA December 2003)
The Swiss cabinet is one of the most stable governments worldwide: Since 1959 the Federal Council is composed of a coalition of all major parties in the same ratio (2 Radical Free Party, 2 Social Democratic, 2 Christian Democratic, 1 Swiss People's Party). Changes in the cabinet occur in practice only, if one of the members resigns - this member is then replaced by someone from the same party (and preferably also the same language group and sex).

Legislative branch: Bicameral parliament. Federal Assembly or Bundesversammlung (in German), Assemblée fédérale (in French), Assemblea Federale (in Italian) consists of the Council of States[?] or Ständerat (in German), Conseil des Etats (in French), Consiglio degli Stati (in Italian) (46 seats - members serve four-year terms) and the National Council[?] or Nationalrat (in German), Conseil national (in French), Consiglio Nazionale (in Italian) (200 seats - members are elected by popular vote on a basis of proportional representation to serve four-year terms)
elections: Council of States - last held in 1999 (each canton determines when the next election will be held); National Council - last held 24 October 1999 (next to be held 19 October 2003)
election results: Council of States - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - FDP 12, CVP 11, SVP 6, SPS 4, other 1; note - as of 1 January 2000, 12 seats were up for runoff elections; National Council - percent of vote by party - SPS 22.5%, SVP 22.6%, FDP 19.9%, CVP 15.8%, other small parties all under 5%; seats by party - SPS 51, SVP 44, FDP 43, CVP 35, Greens 9, other small parties 18

Judicial branch: Federal Supreme Court, judges elected for six-year terms by the Federal Assembly

Political parties and leaders:

  • Christian Democratic People's Party (Christlichdemokratische Volkspartei der Schweiz or CVP, Parti Démocrate-Chrétien Suisse or PDC, Partito Democratico-Cristiano Popolare Svizzero or PDC, Partida Cristiandemocratica dalla Svizra or PCD) [1] (http://www.cvp.ch) -- Philipp Stähelin[?], president;
  • Evangelical People's Party (Evangelische Volkspartei der Schweiz or EVP, Parti Evangelique Suisse or PEV, Partito Evangelico Svizzero or PEV) [2] (http://www.evppev.ch) -- Ruedi Aeschbacher[?], president;
  • Green Party (Grüne Partei der Schweiz or Grüne, Parti Ecologiste Suisse or Les Verts, Partito Ecologista Svizzero or I Verdi, Partida Ecologica Svizra or La Verda) [3] (http://www.gruene.ch) -- Ruth Genner[?] and Patrice Mugny[?], presidents;
  • Radical Free Democratic Party (Freisinnig-Demokratische Partei der Schweiz or FDP, Parti radical-démocratique suisse or PRD, Partito Liberal-Radicale Svizzero or PLR) [4] (http://www.fdp.ch) -- Christiane Langenberger[?], president;
  • Social Democratic Party (Sozialdemokratische Partei der Schweiz or SPS, Parti Socialiste Suisse or PSS, Partito Socialista Svizzero or PSS, Partida Socialdemocratica de la Svizra or PSS) [5] (http://www.sp-ps.ch) -- Christiane Brunner[?], president;
  • Swiss People's Party (Schweizerische Volkspartei or SVP, Union Démocratique du Centre or UDC, Unione Democratica del Centro or UDC, Uniun Democratica dal Center or UDC) [6] (http://www.svp.ch) -- Ueli Maurer[?], president; and minor
  • other parties including
    • Swiss Democratic Party (Schweizer Demokraten or SD, Démocrates Suisses or DS, Democratici Svizzeri or DS),
    • Ticino League (Lega dei Ticinesi) [7] (http://www.legaticinesi.ch)
    • Liberal Party (Liberale Partei der Schweiz or LPS, Parti liberal suisse or PLS, Partito Liberale Svizzero or PLS) [8] (http://www.liberal.ch) -- Claude Ruey[?], president;
    • Freedom Party or FPS,
    • Workers' Party (Parti suisse du travail or PST, Partei der Arbeit der Schweiz or PdAdS, Partito Svizzero del Lavoro or PSdL), and the
    • Union of Federal Democrats (Eidgenössisch-Demokratische Union or EDU, Union Démocratique Fédérale or UDF, Unione Democratica Federale or UDF).

International organization participation:
ACCT[?], AfDB, AsDB, Australia Group, BIS, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, EFTA, ESA, FAO, G-10[?], IADB[?], IAEA, IBRD (World Bank), ICAO, ICC, ICC, ICDO[?], ICFTU, ICMM[?], ICRM, IDA, IEA[?], IFAD, IFC, IFCS[?], IFRCS, IGC[?], ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, IWC, LAIA[?] (observer), NAM (guest), NEA[?], NSG[?], OAS (observer), OECD, OIE, OPCW, OSCE, OTIF[?], PCA, PFP[?], UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR[?], UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNMOP, UNOMIG[?], UNTSO, UNU, UPU, WCL, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, ZC

Diplomatic representations of Switzerland:
Official list by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) (http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/g/home/emb/addch)

Diplomatic representations in Switzerland:
Official list by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) (http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/e/home/emb/addfor)

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Christian Blickenstorfer[?]
chancery: 2900 Cathedral Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 745-7900
FAX: [1] (202) 387-2564
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco
consulate(s): Boston

Flag description: red square with a bold, equilateral white greek cross in the center of the flag

Web site: http://www.admin.ch

See also : Switzerland

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