Switzerland has a broad range of political parties. While some are only active at the regional level, others are well-rooted nationwide and have elected representatives in the Federal Assembly (parliament). The Federal Council (state government) is traditionally composed of the four parties with the strongest electoral showing.
Four parties are active in almost all 26 cantons and each have at least one representative in the Federal Council. According to the consociational model of democracy adopted in Switzerland, left-wing, right-wing and centrist parties all share executive power. Members of the Federal Council are drawn from the ranks of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), the Social Democratic Party (SP), the Centre (an alliance of the Christian Democrat People's Party and the Conservative Democratic Party) and FDP.The Liberals.
There are also parties who are not represented on the Federal Council, but who do have representatives in the Swiss Parliament. These include the Green Party (GPS), the Green Liberal Party (GLP), the Federal Democratic Union (EDU), Ensemble à Gauche, the Lega dei Ticinesi, the Swiss Evangelical People's Party, and nine youth parties that are affiliated to parent parties.
In 2008 the Conservative Democratic Party (BDP) split from the SVP; in 2009 the FDP and the Swiss Liberal Party (LPS) merged at the national level to become FDP.The Liberals; and in 2021 the BDP and the Christian Democrat People's Party (CVP) also merged to become the Centre.
Changing political landscape
Over the last 20 years Switzerland’s political landscape has been marked by the considerable gains made by the SVP, a conservative party with roots in the farming community, at the expense of other right-wing parties. In the 2019 federal elections, this trend was reversed in favour of the Green parties: though the SVP remained the strongest party in Parliament with 59 seats, it lost eleven of the seats it won in 2015. There were losses for other major parties, too, including the SP (48 seats -7), FDP.The Liberals (41 seats -5), and the Centre (41 seats -7). The two Green parties (GPS and GLP) gained an additional 30 seats, giving them 49 seats in total.
In Switzerland, the primary source of funding for political parties is membership fees and donations. Since 2023, all parties represented in the Federal Assembly must disclose their income, donations of over CHF 15,000 per donor, and payments to individual members of parliament. In addition to party donations, spending in excess of CHF 50,000 per campaign for federal votes and parliamentary elections must also be disclosed.