The Speaker
Monday, 20 May 2024 – 21:51

Explaining Politics: Switzerland

Switzerland is a “Semi-Direct Democratic Federal Republic”, a system combining elements of both direct and representative democracy.

Switzerland is composed of 26 states, known as cantons. The cantons are all regions that, at some point before the 1848 signing of the Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation, operated as a sovereign administration. Each canton has control over its own healthcare, welfare, law enforcement, public education, and taxation.

The Swiss Parliament, the Federal Assembly, is composed of two houses, the Council of States, and the National Council. The National Council is the lower chamber, composed of 200 seats, with seats being split between the cantons proportionally based upon population. The Council of States is the upper chamber, composed of 46 seats, with some cantons having 1 seat and others having 2. Both chambers are equal in terms of power. Elections are held for the public to decide the membership of both houses every four years.

Learn more by clicking through the tabs below.

Skip to content