Swiss Political System – Facts and Figures

Federalism and direct democracy reflect the great importance that the Swiss political system places on the freedom of choice and self-determination. Bern is the de facto capital city of Switzerland.

Federal Square with the fountain in front of Federal Palace in Bern
“Bundesplatz” (Federal Square) in Bern © The Swiss Parliament

Switzerland does not have an official (de jure) capital city in the technical sense. Chosen as the seat of government, Bern is referred to as the ‘federal city’, and operates as Switzerland’s de facto capital. 

Three political levels share power in Switzerland: the Confederation, the 26 cantons and over 2,250 communes.

The Swiss federal government (the Federal Council) is made up of seven members, who are elected by parliament.

The Swiss Parliament (Federal Assembly) has a total of 246 members, who are directly elected by the people. Switzerland has a bicameral parliament: the National Council (200 members) and the Council of States (46 members).

15 political parties are represented in the Swiss Parliament. Those parties with the largest share of the popular vote are represented on the Federal Council.

Some 5.3 million citizens, roughly 63% of the total population, are eligible to vote at federal level. This right is granted to all Swiss nationals on reaching the age of majority (18 in Switzerland).