Voting in Switzerland is the process by which Swiss citizens make decisions about governance and elect officials. Governance relates to decisions that define expectations, grant power, or verify performance. An election is a Decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold formal office An official is someone who holds an office (function or mandate, regardless whether it carries an actual working space with it in an Organisation or Voting takes place over the week-end, with emphasis being put on the Sunday. At noon on that day ("Abstimmungssonntag" in German), voting ends.
This article is part of the series:
Other countries · Atlas
Switzerland's voting system is unique among modern democratic nations in that Switzerland practices direct democracy (also called half-direct democracy), in which any citizen may challenge any law at any time. Switzerland (English pronunciation; Schweiz Swiss German: Schwyz or Schwiiz Suisse Svizzera Svizra officially the Swiss Confederation Politics of Switzerland takes place in the framework of a multi-party federal parliamentary democratic Republic, whereby the Human rights are comprehensively guaranteed in Switzerland, one of Europe's oldest democracies. The Federal Constitution of 18 April 1999 (Bundesverfassung der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft Constitution fédérale de la Confédération suisse Constituzione federale della Confederazione The Swiss Federal Council (Schweizerischer Bundesrat Conseil fédéral suisse Consiglio federale svizzero Cussegl federal This is a list of members of the Swiss Federal Council (Schweizerischer Bundesrat Conseil fédéral suisse Consiglio federale svizzero Cussegl federal svizzer Moritz Leuenberger (born 21 September 1946 is a Swiss Politician, Lawyer, member of the Swiss Federal Council since 1995 and President Pascal Couchepin (born April 5, 1942) is a Swiss Politician, member of the Swiss Federal Council since 1998 and President of The President of the Confederation (Bundespräsident Président de la Confédération Presidente della Confederazione President da la Confederaziun is the presiding member Samuel Schmid (born January 8, 1947) has been a member of the Swiss Federal Council since 2000. Micheline Calmy-Rey (born July 8, 1945) is a Swiss politician member of the Swiss Federal Council since 2002 Hans-Rudolf Merz (born 10 November 1942 is a Swiss politician of the Free Democratic Party (FDP/PRD and Member of the Swiss Federal Council (since 2003 The President of the Confederation (Bundespräsident Président de la Confédération Presidente della Confederazione President da la Confederaziun is the presiding member Doris Leuthard (born 10 April 1963) is a Swiss politician and lawyer Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf (born 16 March 1956) is a Swiss lawyer politician and member of the Swiss Federal Council since 2008 The Federal Chancellor (Bundeskanzler(in Chancelier(-ière fédéral(e Cancelliere(-a della Confederazione Chancelier(a federal(a is the head of the Federal Chancellery Corina Casanova (born 4 January 1956) is the Federal Chancellor of Switzerland. The federal administration of Switzerland (Bundesverwaltung Administration fédérale Amministrazione federale is the ensemble of agencies that constitute together with the The Federal Assembly (in German, Bundesversammlung; in French, Assemblée fédérale; in Italian, Assemblea federale The Council of States of Switzerland (Ständerat Conseil des Etats Consiglio degli Stati Cussegl dals Stadis is the smaller chamber of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland This is a list of members of the Swiss Council of States of the 48th legislature (2007-2011 The National Council of Switzerland (Nationalrat Conseil National Consiglio Nazionale Cussegl Naziunal is the larger Chamber of the parliament with 200 seats This is a list of the 200 members of the Swiss National Council for the 2007 - 2011 legislative term current as of 25 November 2007 Political parties in Switzerland lists political parties in Switzerland. Elections in Switzerland gives information on Election and election results in Switzerland. Legislative elections in the Swiss Confederation were held on 19 October 2003. Elections to the Swiss Federal Assembly, the federal parliament of Switzerland, were held on Sunday October 21, 2007. The Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland (Bundesgericht Tribunal fédéral Tribunale federale Tribunal federal is the Supreme court of Switzerland. The Federal Criminal Court of Switzerland ( FCC; Bundesstrafgericht Tribunal pénal fédéral Tribunale penale federale Tribunal federal penala is the court The Federal Administrative Court of Switzerland ( FAC; Bundesverwaltungsgericht Tribunal administratif fédéral Tribunale amministrativo federale Tribunal Switzerland took part in negotiating the European Economic Area agreement with the European Union. The foreign relations of Switzerland are the primary responsibility of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA The 26 cantons of Switzerland are the states of the Federal state of Switzerland. Municipalities (sometimes called communities or communes, after the French/Italian names are the smallest government division in Switzerland and are called Information on politics by country is available for every Country, including both De jure and De facto independent Switzerland (English pronunciation; Schweiz Swiss German: Schwyz or Schwiiz Suisse Svizzera Svizra officially the Swiss Confederation Democracy is a form of government in which the supreme power is held completely by the people under a free electoral system Switzerland (English pronunciation; Schweiz Swiss German: Schwyz or Schwiiz Suisse Svizzera Svizra officially the Swiss Confederation Direct Democracy is a movement within the British Conservative Party dedicated to localism and Constitutional reform as a means of reviving public In addition, in most cantons all votes are cast using paper ballots that are manually counted. The 26 cantons of Switzerland are the states of the Federal state of Switzerland.
Approximately four times a year, voting occurs over various issues; these include both referendums, where policies are directly voted on by people, and elections, where the populace votes for officials. A referendum (plural referendums or referenda) ballot question, or plebiscite (from Latin plebiscita An election is a Decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold formal office These votes take place during the weekend. Federal, cantonal and municipal issues are polled simultaneously, and the majority of people cast their votes by mail.
Only 25% to 45% of all eligible citizens typically cast their votes, but controversial proposals (such as EU membership or abolishing the army) have seen voter turnouts of about 60%.
Voting can be done through hand counts, mail-in ballots, visits to polling booths, or, more recently, Internet votes. A ballot is a device (originally a small ball—see blackball) used to record choices made by Voters Each voter uses one ballot and ballots are not The Internet is a global system of interconnected Computer networks
Until several years ago, some cantons punished citizens for not voting (with a fine equivalent to $3). The United States dollar ( sign: $; code: USD) is the unit of Currency of the United States; it has also been In the canton of Schaffhausen, voting is still compulsory. The Canton of is a canton of Switzerland. The principal city and capital of the canton is Schaffhausen. This is the reason for the turnout which is usually a little higher than in the rest of the country.
There are no voting machines in Switzerland; all votes are counted by hand. Every municipality randomly recruits a number of citizens who have the duty of counting the ballots, but penalties for disobeying this duty have become rare. Sortition, also known as allotment, is an equal-chance method of selection by some form of lottery such as drawing coloured pebbles from a bag However, after people sort the ballots (e. g. "yes" and "no"), then the total number of "yes" and "no" votes are counted either manually or, in bigger cities, by an automatic counter (like the ones used in banks to count banknotes); or the ballots are weighed by a precision balance. A banknote counter (or bill counter is a device designed primarily to accurately count a quantity of banknotes
Voters are not required to register before elections in Switzerland. Voter registration is the requirement in some democracies for Citizens and residents to check in with some central registry specifically for the purpose of being allowed An election is a Decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold formal office Since every person living in the country (both Swiss nationals and foreigners) must register with the municipality within two weeks of moving to a new place, all citizens are already registered and do not have to reregister if they wish to vote. The municipalities know the addresses of their citizens, and approximately two months before the polling date they send voters a letter containing an envelope (with the word "Ballots" on it), a small booklet informing them about the proposed changes in the law and, finally, the ballots themselves. An envelope is a Packaging product usually made of flat planar material such as Paper or cardboard and designed to contain a flat object which in a postal-service Once the voter has filled out his/her ballot these are then sent back to the municipality in a return envelope provided in the package.
Swiss citizens may cast their vote in polling booths. At polling booths voters take the ballots that they have previously received in the mail and drop them off at the booth. However, after the introduction of postal voting not many Swiss citizens choose to utilize this service. Apparently an advantage for the voters (they don't have to visit the polling booth on Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning when the votes are to be counted on Sunday), it is, on the other hand, a disadvantage for organisations which were collecting signatures for an initiative near the polling station. In Political science, the initiative (also known as popular or citizen's initiative) provides a means by which a Petition signed by a certain This is so because the actual voters are interested in politics, so asking them for a signature yields far better results than randomly asking for signatures on a city square.
Several cantons (Geneva, Neuchâtel and Zürich) have developed test projects to allow citizens to vote via the Internet  or by SMS. The Canton of Geneva is the westernmost canton or state of Switzerland, surrounded on almost all sides by France and centered around the city of Geneva Neuchâtel (Canton de Neuchâtel Kanton Neuenburg is a canton of western Switzerland. The Canton of Zürich (German Kanton) has a population of about 1 Short Message Service ( SMS) is a Communications protocol allowing the interchange of short text messages between mobile telephone devices.
There are three primary election types. Elections in Switzerland gives information on Election and election results in Switzerland. The first two, parliamentary elections and executive elections, allow a Swiss citizens to vote for candidates to represent them in the government. Parliamentary elections are organized around a proportional multi-party voting system and executive elections are organized around a popular vote directly for individuals, where the individual with the most votes wins. The third type of election, referenda, concern policy issues.
Parliamentary elections decide the members of the Council of States and the National Council. The Council of States of Switzerland (Ständerat Conseil des Etats Consiglio degli Stati Cussegl dals Stadis is the smaller chamber of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland The National Council of Switzerland (Nationalrat Conseil National Consiglio Nazionale Cussegl Naziunal is the larger Chamber of the parliament with 200 seats If candidates are running for a parliamentary position, the voter is sent several ballots, each corresponding to a different political party. A ballot is a device (originally a small ball—see blackball) used to record choices made by Voters Each voter uses one ballot and ballots are not A political party is a Political organization that seeks to attain and maintain political power within Government, usually by participating in electoral Every party makes up its own voting list, but the voter can either make a list of his or her own or they can make some changes to party-proposed lists.
If candidates are running for the Federal Assembly of Switzerland, the ballot displays as many lines as there are posts to fill. The Federal Assembly (in German, Bundesversammlung; in French, Assemblée fédérale; in Italian, Assemblea federale The voter then votes for the candidates that they wish to fill the parliament seats. Each candidate can be voted for up to two times. Each time a candidate's name appears on the list, a vote is counted for the particular candidate. The voter can delete a candidate's name and replace it with another name if they wish or they can leave the line blank. Although the voter is provided with a party list the voter can substitute a member of a different party and prepare their own list. For example, one can remove a candidate from the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland list and replace him with one from the Liberal Party of Switzerland. The Social Democratic Party of Switzerland (also rendered as Socialist Party of Switzerland Sozialdemokratische Partei der Schweiz (SP Parti socialiste suisse (PS Partito Socialista The Liberal Party of Switzerland (Liberale Partei der Schweiz Parti liberal suisse Partito Liberale Svizzero is a Classical liberal Political party in Switzerland If a voter uses a ready-made party list, additionally a party vote is cast for the specific party. A voter can also use a free list with no party affiliation; casting a free list with self-chosen candidate's names doesn't result in a party vote.
The parliament is elected through two different procedures.
The National Council is elected through a procedure called proportional representation ("Proporzwahl" in German), because each party gets a number of parliament seats proportional to the number of party votes it receives. The National Council of Switzerland (Nationalrat Conseil National Consiglio Nazionale Cussegl Naziunal is the larger Chamber of the parliament with 200 seats Proportional representation (sometimes referred to as full representation or PR is a category of electoral formula aiming at a close match between the percentage of votes This determines the number of seats that the party is given, but the individual candidates still aren't elected - this is determined by the candidate vote. If according to the party votes the Liberals get 5 seats, the five liberal candidates with the highest candidate vote counts are elected.
Members of the Council of States are elected through different systems as decided by the cantons, because the body represents Switzerland's cantons (member states). The Council of States of Switzerland (Ständerat Conseil des Etats Consiglio degli Stati Cussegl dals Stadis is the smaller chamber of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland However, there is a uniform mode of election taking place on the same date as the nationwide National Council elections. The National Council of Switzerland (Nationalrat Conseil National Consiglio Nazionale Cussegl Naziunal is the larger Chamber of the parliament with 200 seats This procedure is the plurality voting system ("Majorzwahl" in German). The plurality voting system is a Single-winner voting system often used to elect executive officers or to elect members of a legislative assembly which is based on single-member In the canton of Zug and the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden, the elections take place before the other cantons according to Majorzwahl. The Canton of Zug ( German Kanton) is one of the 26 Cantons of Switzerland. Appenzell Innerrhoden (German; in English sometimes Appenzell Inner Rhodes) is the smallest canton of Switzerland by population and the second smallest The only exception to Majorzwahl is the canton of Jura, where the two councillors are elected according to Proporzwahl. The Republic and Canton of the Jura (République et Canton du Jura also known as the Canton of Jura or Canton Jura, is one of the Cantons of Switzerland
The voters can also vote for the government of each canton. The ballot has only one line where the voter can place the full name of any mature citizen that lives in the said canton, i. e. a write-in candidate. There are no party votes, only candidate votes; so this procedure is called ("Majorzwahl") where the candidate with the most votes wins, otherwise known as simple majority (plurality in the US) elections.
For each proposal there is a box on the ballot which the voter has to fill with either a "Yes" or a "No". If there are proposals that contradict each other, there is also a tie-break question: "If both proposals are adopted by the people, which proposal do you favor? (the so-called "subsidiary question" introduced in 1987)
If there is a referendum on changing the text of the Swiss constitution, there are also cantonal votes. Each full canton has one vote, but so-called half-cantons (because they were so historically split centuries ago) only have a half vote each. In the case that a change of the constitution is adopted, both the majority of the Swiss citizens and the majority of the cantons have to agree. The cantonal vote is determined by a popular vote among the people of that canton; if the majority supports a proposal then the entire canton supports the proposal.
This cantonal vote means that small cantons are represented equally with the larger ones. For example, Basel-Country as a canton has about 256,000 inhabitants, but has only half a cantonal vote (the other "half canton" being Basel-City). Basel-Country ( German:; Swiss German: Basel-Land / Baselbiet) is one of the 26 Cantons of Switzerland. Basel-City (in German:) is one of the 26 Cantons of Switzerland. On the other side, there is the canton of Uri which has a full cantonal vote, but only 35,000 inhabitants. Uri (German) is one of the 26 Cantons of Switzerland. It is located in Central Switzerland. In the case that the majority of the cantons should approve a constitutional change with a great probability, there must be a majority of about 60% in the Swiss-wide popular vote.
Every village, town or city has its parliament — in some villages, it is the town meeting (usually called "Landsgemeinde"), where the adult citizens vote by raising their hands. A village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet, but smaller than a Town or City. A town meeting is a meeting where the population of an entire geographic area is invited to participate in a gathering often for a political administrative or legislative purpose There, the citizen can also present oral or written proposals which are voted on at the next town hall meeting. In larger towns, the town hall meetings are substituted by an elected parliament.
In the municipal parliaments, votes about changes to the "town constitution" (Gemeindereglement, which governs, e. g. , the use of public space), financial engagements exceeding the competence of the executive branch and naturalizations are carried out.
Switzerland currently has about 7. Switzerland (English pronunciation; Schweiz Swiss German: Schwyz or Schwiiz Suisse Svizzera Svizra officially the Swiss Confederation 5 million inhabitants; 5. 6 million are Swiss citizens who have the right to vote although some cantons (states) and municipalities have granted foreigners the right to vote if they have lived a certain number of years in Switzerland. The 26 cantons of Switzerland are the states of the Federal state of Switzerland.
All Swiss citizens aged 18 years or more are allowed to vote. In addition, Swiss citizens living outside of the country who are older than 18 are also allowed to vote on federal matters and, in some cantons, on cantonal matters. For these voters, registration through the local or nearest Swiss Consulate is compulsory (as they are not already registered in the municipality in which they live). They can choose to register in any Swiss municipalities in which they have been registered previously, or at their place of origin.
In general, the municipal parliament decides about naturalizations. Swiss citizenship is the status of being a citizen of Switzerland and it can be obtained by birth marriage or Naturalisation. However, in some towns, naturalisations are subject to a popular vote. The Supreme Court decided in 2003 that naturalizations were an administrative act and thus must obey the prohibition of arbitrariness, which rules out democratic votes on naturalizations. The Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland (Bundesgericht Tribunal fédéral Tribunale federale Tribunal federal is the Supreme court of Switzerland.
There are ongoing discussions about changing the rules: one proposal consists of automatically naturalizing foreigners if they fulfill the formal criteria, and citizens can propose non-naturalization if they give a reason for the proposal. The proposal would be voted on, and if the foreigner doesn't accept the outcome of the vote, he can order the court to verify the objectivity of the reasons. Some politicians have started an initiative to change the Swiss Constitution in order to make votes on naturalizations legal (), this reached a a referendum in June and was soundly rejected. In Political science, the initiative (also known as popular or citizen's initiative) provides a means by which a Petition signed by a certain A referendum on three questions was held in Switzerland on 1 June 2008: people's initiative against publicly funded information campaigns