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Legal System of Switzerland

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HomeBrud.gifLegal System of Switzerland

Switzerland is a Direct Democratic Federal Republic.

Legislation in Switzerland

The Bicameral parliament system is in force in Switzerland that was empowered with the authority to legislate.

The Swiss Parliament has two houses

  • The Council of States or the upper chamber which has 46 representatives (two from each canton and one from each half-canton) who are elected under a system determined by each canton, and
  • The National Council or the lower chamber, which consists of 200 members who are elected under a system of proportional representation, depending on the population of each canton. Members of both houses serve for 4 years and only serve as members of parliament part-time (so-called "Milizsystem" or Citizen legislature).
  • When both the houses are in a joint-session, it is called a Federal Assembly.
  • The Citizens of Switzerlands are empowered to challenge any law passed by the legislation by way of referandums. They also can introduce amendments to the Federal Constitution. This is why, Switzerland is termed a Direct Democracy.

Executive in Switzerland

  • The Swiss Executive is considered one of the most stable governments of the world. Since 1848, it has never been renewed entirely at the same time, providing a long-term continuity.
  • The Federal Council has the executive powers in Switzerland. It directs the federal administration and serves as the collective Head of State.
  • The Federal Council is a collegial body of seven members, elected for a four-year mandate by the Federal Assembly which also exercises oversight over the Council.
  • They operate as a combination cabinet and collective presidency.
  • While the entire council is responsible for leading the federal administration of Switzerland, each Councillor heads one of the seven federal executive departments.
  • Any Swiss citizen eligible to be a member of the National Council can be elected. Candidates do not have to register for the election, or to actually be members of the National Council.
  • The President of the Confederation is elected by the Assembly from among the seven members, traditionally in rotation and for a one-year term.
  • Typically, the Vice-President would become the next President.
  • The President chairs the government and assumes representative functions. However, the president is a primus inter pares with no additional powers, and remains the head of a department within the administration.
  • The Swiss government has been a coalition of the four major political parties since 1959. The distribution of seats was known as the "magic formula".

Judiciary in Switzerland

  • The Federal Court is the judiciary arm in Switzerland.
  • The Federal Supreme Court hears appeals against rulings of cantonal or federal courts.
  • The judges are elected by the Federal Assembly for six-year terms.

Constitution of Switzerland

The Constitution of Switzerland, originally called the Federal Constitution is one of the oldest constitutions of the World and was adopted in 1848. A newer Constitution was introduced in 1999 with some changes yet retaining the federal structure. It outlines basic and political rights of individuals and citizen participation in public affairs, divides the powers between the Confederation and the cantons and defines federal jurisdiction and authority.