Federal President (Switzerland)

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Federal President
"Corporate Design Bund"
"Corporate Design Bund"
Federal President Guy Parmelin
Acting Federal President
Guy Parmelin
January 1, 2021 - December 31, 2021
Official seat Federal Palace in Bern
Term of office one year (re-election possible)
Establishment of office November 21, 1848
Last choice December 9, 2020
Next choice Beginning of December 2021
Deputy Ignazio Cassis , Vice President of the Federal Council
predecessor Simonetta Sommaruga (2020)
successor Ignazio Cassis (2022)
website www.admin.ch
Federal Councilor Ignazio Cassis , Vice President 2021

The Federal President ( French Président de la Confédération , Italian Presidente della Confederazione , Romansh President da la Confederaziun ) is the member of the Swiss government, the Federal Council , who, as primus inter pares, chairs the meetings. His deputy is the Vice President of the Federal Council .

On December 9, 2020, Guy Parmelin was elected Federal President for the year 2021 with 188 valid votes of the United Federal Assembly. He is holding this office for the first time. His regular successor would be Ignazio Cassis , who was elected Vice-President with 202 votes .


Unlike the Federal President in neighboring Austria or Germany , the Swiss Federal President is not a head of state . The Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation has neither a head of state nor a head of government . All of these functions are performed by the entire Federal Council as a college .

In the function of chairman of the Federal Council, the vote of the Federal President is decisive in the event of a tie; he makes the so-called "casting vote".

In addition to managing his department , the Federal President only takes on some of the representative tasks of a head of state. Initially, this was only the case domestically: the Federal President gives the radio and television speeches for the New Year and the Swiss Federal Day on August 1st , and he gives the diplomatic corps the traditional New Year reception in the Federal Palace , at which he and the respective Apostolic Nuncio in the Switzerland giving short speeches. At a time when there are more international contacts, the Federal President also travels abroad more often.

However, since Switzerland does not have a head of state, it is customary not to pay any state visits yourself . When the Federal President goes abroad, he only does so as the responsible head of department. However, if an official visit is made to a head of state from another country, this is usually done by the Federal President; The same applies to appearances on the side of several heads of state from other countries, for example in the UN General Assembly .


The Federal President is elected for one year from among the Federal Councilors by the United Federal Assembly in the winter session at the beginning of December each year . The term of office of the Federal President lasts from January 1 to December 31 of a calendar year.

In the 19th century, the election of Federal President was an award for particularly valued Federal Councilors. Less influential members of the government, however, were regularly ignored. Such was the St. Galler Wilhelm Matthias Naeff , which for 27 years belonged to the Swiss government, only once (1853) Federal President.

The choice has usually been undisputed since the 20th century. The unwritten rule applies that the Federal Councilor who has not (or has not) held this office for the longest time to become Federal President. Each Federal Councilor has at least one role in seven years of office. The only question that creates tension in the election is how many votes in the Federal Assembly the person to be elected receives, which is considered a popularity test. In the 1970s and 1980s, 200 votes (out of a possible 246) were considered an excellent result. In an era of growing party-political conflicts, 180 votes are currently a respectable result.

Until 1920, it was common - with interruptions - for the respective Federal President to take over the Foreign Ministry . So there was at least one minor castling every year when the outgoing Federal President returned to his old department and the new one moved to the Foreign Ministry. It was also customary for the Federal President - even as Foreign Minister - not to leave Switzerland during his year in office.

The Vice President of the Federal Council is also elected annually. This is the deputy of the Federal President and is usually elected Federal President in the following year.

See also

Presidia of other federal state bodies:

Web links

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Individual evidence

  1. 20.219 | Federal Council. Election of the Federal President and the Vice-President of the Federal Council for 2021 | Official Bulletin | The Swiss Parliament , December 9, 2020.
  2. The right to the casting vote is v. a. called “ Dirimierungsrecht ” in Austria .