The foundation of present-day Switzerland is dated back to 1848. Each year, by tradition, a different member of the council fills the ceremonial post of federal president on a rotational basis.
Switzerland is a direct democracy that has three levels of Government: the federal government, the cantons and the communes.
The Federal Government handles key policy issues such as defence, infrastructure and external political relationships.
Switzerland has 26 cantons; a canton is a sub-division of a country established for running the administrative tasks and other political purposes. Each canton has their own set of laws, governments and constitution but they must ensure that they do not in any way go against the federal constitution.
The communes on the other hand (2000 communes in Switzerland), handle issues at the grassroot level, they plan and implement policies revolving around education, healthcare and even cultural affairs.
The laws in Switzerland are created by the two chambers of parliament; the national council (represents the population and has 200 members of parliament) and the council of the state (46 senators). Both the chambers have the same set of powers and their members are elected by the Swiss people every four years.
Switzerland also has a body that implements the laws decided by the two chambers, this is known as the Federal Council, this council has 7 members that handle various ministries and are also elected every 4 years.
Switzerland has probably one of the world’s most stable and transparent political system, the voters are very closely involved with politics and understand its sensitivity to their day to day lives. The voters have a large say in the political decision making of the country, citizens can often be seen raising important issues at the grassroot level by means of referendums, campaigns or other small-scale initiatives.
A stable government is key to the growth and development of the Swiss economy. Swiss politics is based on consensus, stability and transparency. A stable government always helps in taking long terms decisions that will have a positive impact on the development of the country. Key issues affecting the voters are reflected in the political environment. A lot of citizens have been very vocal about the issue of climate change and its impact, the green party in Switzerland who have “caring for the environment” as a key highlight of their work mandate has seen their popularity rise in the last few years.
Simonetta Sommaruga was recently elected as the president of Switzerland. She is a member of the Social Democratic Party. She was a member of the Federal Council for ten years and was vice-president and head of the environment, energy, and transport department in 2019.