Concordance system

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For other uses, see Concordance.

In Swiss politics, concordance system (German Konkordanzsystem) refers to the presence of all major parties in the Federal Council, also referred to as the integration of the political opposition into government.

The Concordance system is based on two principles

  • an arithmetic rule, proportionality: the Federal Council should be representative of the political forces of the country, that is, its composition should be similar to that of the Federal Assembly.
  • a political rule, consensus: the government must reach a compromise, even though it is composed of antagonistic parties.

One of the reasons explaining such a system (that also exists at the cantonal level, for partly similar and partly other reasons) is the "threat" of direct democracy, since a sizeable opposition could in principle "paralyse" the government by submitting too many referenda.

The fact that the members of the government must reach common decisions and stand by them is referred to as the principle of collegiality (German Kollegialitätsprinzip), (grounded in the Federal Constitution, art. 177 al.1). The members of the Federal Council are thus supposed to forgo party politics in the interest of a cooperative spirit among the members of the executive.


  • The Concordance system started in 1891 with the election of Joseph Zemp, a conservative, in a then entirely Free Democratic executive. The fact that this led to a reduced opposition from the outside of the government has since been referred to as "The Zemp effect".

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