National Council (Switzerland)
|Logo of the Federal Assembly||Bundeshaus|
|Seat:||Federal Palace in Bern|
|Legislative period :||four years|
|Current legislative period|
|Last choice:||20th October 2019|
|Next choice:||October 22, 2023|
|Chair:||Isabelle Moret ( FDP )|
|Distribution of seats:||
|National Council on parlament.ch|
The National Council (abbreviated NR ; French Conseil national , CN ; Italian Consiglio nazionale ; Rhaeto-Romanic ) is the large chamber of the parliament of the Swiss Confederation with 200 members. It is chaired by Isabelle Moret ( FDP ).
With 200 members, the National Council forms the largest chamber of the parliamentary system.
When the federal state was founded in 1848, this number was not yet fixed, but was based on the population of the individual cantons. According to the requirements of the Federal Constitution at the time, a member of the National Council should represent 20,000 residents. Therefore, the first National Council, which met in 1848, had 111 members.
In 1963 the number of members of the National Council was finally set at 200. Since then, the allocation to the individual cantons has been based on the respective census results (including foreigners) using the Hare-Niemeyer method . A change in the distribution took place in 2003 following the results of the federal census from 2000. Even after that, changes in the allocation of seats were made from time to time. Each canton is entitled to at least one national councilor. A detailed table on the development of the number of seats per canton can be found below .
The national councils are elected by the people every four years for a legislative period of four years; the last election took place on Sunday, October 20, 2019.
Elections have been made since 1919 after a corresponding popular initiative has been adopted by proportional representation , with each canton forming an electoral district. Each constituency forms a self-contained electoral area. There is no threshold clause, such as the so-called five percent hurdle that is common in Germany, for example , because in Switzerland the clearest possible parliamentary group strengths are not elementary in favor of forming governments. Since 1971 women can vote and be elected in national elections. Election day is every four years on the penultimate Sunday in October.
Since the modernization of the census and the use of administrative data to collect population figures (2007), the distribution of the number of seats across the cantons has been based on the permanent resident population (including those not entitled to vote) in the year following the last general election. The principle applies that every canton is entitled to at least one seat. The seats within the cantons with the right to more than one seat are allocated to Hare-Niemeyer . Cantons that can only send one representative to the National Council vote by majority vote , with the relative majority deciding.
During the elections, the parties in the cantons draw up lists of candidates. Each list contains a maximum of as many candidates as the canton has seats in the National Council. Each voter can vote as many people as his canton is entitled to national councilors: a resident of the canton of Zurich 35, a resident of the canton Uri only one.
It is possible to list one or more candidates twice. In addition, each party can run with several lists per canton (for example, men and women, youth and senior citizens, in larger cantons also city and country lists). A list connection between several different parties is also possible. The voters have the option of submitting the lists unchanged or of changing them by cumulating or variegating them. On the one hand, the voter can vote for a single candidate and leave the rest to his party. On the other hand, it is possible that the voter distributes the votes due to him to candidates from several parties.
Work of the National Council
The work and competencies of the National Council are regulated by the Federal Act on the Federal Assembly (Parliament Act) and the fifth title of the Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation . The National Council and the Council of States form the Federal Assembly and exercise supreme power in Switzerland, subject to the rights of the people and the cantons. Both chambers are called councils. The National Council and the Council of States do not meet constantly, but meet regularly for sessions. As a rule, there are four sessions of three weeks each, with two to five meeting days per week. The spring session begins on the first Monday in March, the summer session on the first Monday in June, the autumn session after the Federal Prayer Day and the winter session on the last Monday in November. During the sessions the legislative proposals are debated; if the sessions are insufficient, a council can convene a special session for itself. In the case of special events (political crises, wars, etc.), a quarter of the members of a council or the Federal Council can request that an extraordinary session be called; both councils then meet at the same time. So far, the councils have met eight times for extraordinary sessions, which were usually requested by the social democratic group.
|date||Occasion / event|
|July 1891||Introduction of the banknote monopoly|
|February 6th and 7th, 1985||Measures against forest dieback|
|October 9-11, 1986||Energy policy after Chernobyl|
|January 22 and 23, 1998||Tax loopholes and mergers / economic policy (merger of UBS and SBV)|
|November 16, 2001||Swissair financing|
|October 3, 2002||Minimum interest rate BVG (" occupational pension plan ")|
|October 1, 2007||Tax issues|
|December 8, 2008||Financial crisis|
|May 4 to 8, 2020||COVID-19 pandemic|
Distribution of seats
According to parties
|Political party||Seats||Share of voters
|Seats||Share of voters
|PdA / Sol||-||0.9||1||0.8|
In the constituencies, seats are again allocated according to the Hagenbach-Bischoff procedure . First of all, it is not the number of votes in the individual lists but those of the list connections that are taken into account. Only after all seats to be allocated in the constituency have been allocated to the individual list connections in proportion to the votes, the seats won within the list connections to the individual lists will again be subdivided to Hagenbach-Bischoff.
The candidates are elected on the party lists according to the number of votes received. Subsequent realignments by the party headquarters in order to secure the entry into the National Council for candidates considered important are not possible. A member of the National Council cannot be voted out or excluded. The early dissolution of the National Council is also not provided for in the constitution. The entire Federal Assembly (National Council and Council of States) will only be dissolved and re-elected in the event of a total revision of the Federal Constitution by the people.
In 1995, after a long phase of party political stability, polarization began in the Swiss party system. Above all, it brought the SVP more votes. At the same time, various parties disappeared at the national level with the Freedom Party or the Landesring. Since the parties at the poles were strengthened, one often speaks of polarization or bipolarization.
According to cantons
Development of the number of seats
The table below shows how many seats the cantons have been entitled to over the years. Up to and including 2011, the results of the censuses , which take place every ten years, were decisive; from 2015 the population registers will be used for distribution.
a 1979 two seats were transferred from the canton of Bern to the newly founded canton of Jura
b the canton of Jura received two seats from the canton of Bern in 1979
Population represented by a seat Based on
the distribution key according to permanent resident population, a National Council represents an average of 0.5% of the resident population in Switzerland. In 2012, the decisive year for the 2015 elections, this value was 40,195 (permanent resident population 8,039,060 as of December 31, 2012). Due to the discreet distribution among cantons and the clause that each canton is entitled to at least one seat, this number varies from canton to canton, between 15,717 (Appenzell Innerrhoden) and 53,438 (Appenzell Ausserrhoden). With the exception of the extreme values in Appenzell, the population represented per seat is between 35,471 and 43,638 inhabitants, i.e. H. from −11.8% below to + 8.6% above average. The number of persons entitled to vote per National Council seat (with 5,124,034 people in the 2011 election, an average of 25,620) in the 2011 elections (with the exception of Appenzell) was between 21,830 (Geneva with an above-average proportion of foreigners) and 27 ' 459 (Bern) people, or –14.8% to + 7.2% deviation from the average.
|Canton||2011 elections (resident population at the end of 2009)||2015 elections (resident population at the end of 2012)|
|Zurich||34||1 406 083||41 355||877 817||25 818||35||1 408 575||40 245|
|Bern||26||985 046||37 886||713 938||27 459||25||992 617||39 705|
|Lucerne||10||381 966||38 197||260 101||26 010||10||386 082||38 608|
|Uri||1||35 382||35 382||26 110||26 110||1||35 693||35 693|
|Schwyz||4||147 904||36 976||98 193||24 548||4||149 830||37 458|
|Obwalden||1||35 878||35 878||25 221||25 221||1||36 115||36 115|
|Nidwalden||1||41 311||41 311||30 363||30 363||1||41 584||41 584|
|Glarus||1||39 217||39 217||26 078||26 078||1||39 369||39 369|
|train||3||113 597||37 866||71 845||23 948||3||116 575||38 858|
|Freiburg||7||284 668||40 667||185 485||26 498||7||291 395||41 628|
|Solothurn||7||259 836||37 119||173 356||24 765||6||259 283||43 214|
|Basel city||5||194 090||38 818||114 064||22 813||5||187 425||37 485|
|Basel-Country||7||277 973||39 710||186 806||26 687||7||276 537||39 505|
|Schaffhausen||2||77 139||38 570||49 783||24 892||2||77 955||38 978|
|Appenzell Ausserrhoden||1||53 313||53 313||37 678||37 678||1||53 438||53 438|
|Appenzell Innerrhoden||1||15 789||15 789||11 358||11 358||1||15 717||15 717|
|St. Gallen||12||483 101||40 258||311 495||25 958||12||487 060||40 588|
|Grisons||5||193 388||38 678||135 141||27 028||5||193 920||38 784|
|Aargau||15||624 681||41 645||399 092||26 606||16||627 340||39 209|
|Thurgau||6||254 528||42 421||160 453||26 742||6||256 213||42 702|
|Ticino||8||336 943||42 118||212 103||26 513||8||341 652||42 707|
|Vaud||18||725 944||40 330||410 956||22 831||18||734 356||40 798|
|Valais||7||317 022||45 289||205 917||25 739||8||321 732||40 217|
|Neuchâtel||5||173 183||34 637||109 926||21 985||4||174 554||43 638|
|Geneva||11||472 530||42 957||240 126||21 830||11||463 101||42 100|
|law||2||70 542||35 271||50 629||25 315||2||70 942||35 471|
From a constitutional point of view, the two chambers of the National Council and the Council of States have completely equal rights - a decision is only valid if it is passed in the same version by both chambers. All matters are dealt with in turn by both councils. The council chairpersons jointly determine which council deals with a business first («first council»).
If the National Council and the Council of States cannot agree on a common text after the first discussion, a difference adjustment procedure takes place, whereby the business shuttles back and forth between the two councils. After three unsuccessful rounds, the unification conference must come on the scene. Further explanations on this procedure: Legislative procedure (Switzerland) .
The National Council elects the National Council President , who chairs the meetings of the National Council and the United Federal Assembly for one year at a time . Because the Federal Assembly exercises “supreme power in the Confederation” (Art. 148 Paragraph 1 BV), he is considered the “highest Swiss”. In the context of international relations (e.g. state visits), however, the Federal President takes first place in terms of protocol because, according to the Federal Constitution, the Federal Council represents Switzerland externally (Art. 184 para. 1 BV): Protocol-based hierarchy in Switzerland .
The compensation of deputies is regulated in parliament Resources Act, supplemented by the Parliament Resource Regulation. The law was last amended in June 2012.
A member of the National Council receives an annual income of CHF 26,000 plus daily allowances of CHF 440 per meeting day. The reimbursement of expenses amounts to CHF 33,000 per year plus meal allowances of CHF 115 per day and accommodation allowances of CHF 180 per day. There are also various remuneration. For example, each parliamentarian is entitled to a general ticket of the first class of the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), or the value thereof as lump-sum compensation for traveling locally. If you arrive by car, the parking fee will be reimbursed. Damage to these vehicles that occurs while driving to Bern and back to the place of residence is also paid for by the federal government.
In 2010, the sum of these compensations and allowances averaged CHF 133,000.
The verbatim minutes of the National Council are published in the Official Bulletin of the Federal Assembly. From 1891, plenary debates on decrees capable of referendums were written down on paper and published as "Official stenographic bulletin". From 1960 onwards, council negotiations were taped and stenographers were replaced by editors. In 1963 the verbatim protocols were renamed "Official Bulletin". From the 1990s, electronic aids were increasingly used. The protocols have been published on the Internet since 1995 and on CD-ROM since 1997.
The annual subscription to the printed version of the Official Bulletin with the four Council Sessions is sold by the Official Bulletin Service of the Federal Assembly for CHF 95.
The debates in the National Council are in German, French and Italian simultaneously translated . If necessary, the National Councilors can listen to what has been said in their seats over headphones in translation. The interpreters in the National Council belong to the so-called language service of the Parliamentary Services of the Federal Assembly. In the Council of States, however, there is no translation.
National Council Chamber
The National Council Chamber serves not only for the Assembly of the National Council but also for the Assembly of the United Federal Assembly . The Council of States take their places, which are under their cantonal coats of arms on the back wall of the hall. In addition to the parliamentary sessions, the annual meetings of the Federal Youth Session have also taken place in the National Council Chamber since 1991 . The administrative delegation is responsible for the use of the parliament building, which can be made available for events “of national or international importance”. Organizations with a parliamentary character can be allowed to hold an extraordinary meeting in a council chamber of the Federal Palace. Non-political organizations must not be given a “prestigious” platform. In 2019, a panel discussion on social issues took place in the hall as part of Women's Day.
After the parliamentarians of the National Council had initially sat grouped by language, Leo Schürmann proposed a new seating arrangement in the 1960s ; For better cooperation in the parliamentary groups, he wanted a different seating arrangement, which was not regulated until 1974 "according to group membership and language" and "if possible, according to personal wishes". It was not until 1995 that the seating arrangement was only drawn up taking into account the parliamentary group.
- The National Council on the website of the Federal Assembly
- Federal elections on October 18, 2015 - How many seats in the National Council do the cantons have? on the ch.ch website
- The first Swiss National Council, 1849/50
- The first Swiss National Council 1849, 1850/51
- Federal Statistical Office: National Council Development of Party Strengths . Retrieved October 21, 2019.
- Federal Act on Political Rights ( SR 161.1 ), Art. 16 1 “Allocation of seats to the cantons”, in force since January 1, 2008.
- Art. 148 BV
- Art. 151 BV
- parlament.ch: Fact sheet on the sessions (PDF, 77 kB) - Attention: Start the download immediately. ( Memento from October 10, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
- Art. 2 ParlG
- Press release by Parliament of March 26th on the holding of the Extraordinary Session.
- Swiss parliamentary elections 2011
- Swiss parliamentary elections 2015
- Federal Statistical Office: Party strengths
- various editions of the Federal Gazette
- Erich Gruner: The elections in the Swiss National Council 1848-1919 . tape 3 . Francke Verlag, Bern 1978, ISBN 3-7720-1445-3 .
- Press release from the Federal Chancellery on "Changes to the distribution of seats among the cantons for the 2019 National Council elections"
- Lukas Leuzinger: Population development: How the weights in the National Council are likely to shift in the medium term In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung of August 30, 2017
- National Council elections 2011: Eligible voters, voters, turnout (bfs.admin.ch) ( Memento from November 16, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
- Federal Statistical Office: Permanent and non-permanent resident population by year, canton and type of population . Retrieved October 19, 2015.
- Parliamentary (PDF; 116 kB)
- Parliamentary (PDF; 118 kB)
- This is how much a federal politician earns (at least) , Blick-Online, August 9, 2011
- Tasks of the Parliamentary Services - Language Service ( Memento of 23 September 2010 in the Internet Archive ), parlament.ch, accessed: 24 September 2010
- Switzerland Facts - A Brief Political and Regional History ( Memento from September 21, 2010 in the Internet Archive ), bundeshaus-radio.ch, accessed: September 24, 2010
- Languages in Switzerland , swissinfo.ch, April 12, 2010
- Above the heads of parliamentarians , swissinfo.ch, September 26, 2003
- Admission of meetings of non-federal parliamentary organizations in the Federal Palace , Office of the National Council February 21, 2001
- INVITATION TO THE PUBLIC PANEL TALK IN THE NATIONAL COUNCIL HALL: «PROFESSIONS: WOMEN CAN DO EVERYTHING» The Federal Assembly
- The Confederation, Parliament and the Chairs , Swiss Federal Archives, accessed on March 26, 2020
- REVIEW OF THE 43rd LEGISLATURE PERIOD OF THE FEDERAL COUNCILS , Documentation Center of the Federal Assembly