Federal Assembly (Switzerland)

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Federal Assembly

Coat of arms or logo
HousesCouncil of States
National Council
President of the Council of States
President of the National Council
46 Council of States
200 National Council
Switzerland Council of States 2019.svg
Council of States political groups
  •   CVP/PDC 13
  •   FDP/PLR 12
  •   SP/PS 9
  •   SVP/UDC 6
  •   Greens (GPS/PES) 5
  •   Independent 1
Suisse Conseil national 2019.svg
National Council political groups
Council of States last election
24 November 2019
National Council last election
20 October 2019
Meeting place
Bundeshaus - Nationalratsratssaal - 001.jpg
Federal Palace of Switzerland, Bern

The Federal Assembly (German: Bundesversammlung, French: Assemblée fédérale, Italian: Assemblea federale, Romansh: Assamblea federala), also known as the Swiss parliament (Parlament, Parlement, Parlamento), is Switzerland's federal legislature. It meets in Bern in the Federal Palace.

The Federal Assembly is bicameral, being composed of the 200-seat National Council and the 46-seat Council of States. The houses have identical powers. Members of both houses represent the cantons, but, whereas seats in the National Council are distributed in proportion to population, each canton has two seats in the Council of States, except the six 'half-cantons', which have one seat each. Both are elected in full once every four years, with the last election being held in 2019.

The Federal Assembly possesses the federal government's legislative power, along with the separate constitutional right of citizen's initiative. For a law to pass, it must be passed by both houses. The two houses may come together as a United Federal Assembly in certain circumstances, such as to elect the Federal Council (the head of government and state), the Federal Chancellor, the federal judges or (only in times of great national danger) a general.


The Federal Assembly was created in 1848, with the rise of Switzerland as a federal state. The previous central institution was the Federal Diet of Switzerland.


The Federal Assembly is made up of two chambers:

Seats in the National Council are allocated to the cantons proportionally, based on population. In the Council of States, every canton has two seats (except for the former "half-cantons", which have one seat each).

United Federal Assembly[edit]

On occasions the two houses sit jointly as the "United Federal Assembly" (German: Vereinigte Bundesversammlung, French: Assemblée fédérale, Chambres réunies, Italian: Assemblea federale plenaria, Romansh: Assamblea federala plenara). This is done to:

The United Federal Assembly is presided by the National Council's presidency.

The Federal Assembly also confirms the appointment of the Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (appointed by the Federal Council).[1]


Parties can cooperate in parliamentary groups, allowing smaller parties access to rights as part of a caucus. At least five members from the same Council are needed to form a group. Only informal groups exist in the Council of States. Members of the National Council are required to be in a formal group in order to be able to sit on a committee.[2]

Since March 2009, there have been six groups in the Federal Assembly. The latest group to form was the Conservative Democratic Party which split off the Swiss People's Party in 2008. The Christian Democrats/EPP/glp Group (CEg) was formed after the 2007 elections, out of the former Christian Democratic (C) and EPP (E) groups. The current FTP/Liberal group (RL) was formed in 2003 out of the former FDP (R) and Liberal (L) groups; since the 2009 fusion of the Free Democrati and Liberal Parties, RL is once again a single-party group. In 2011, the CEg was disbanded, the Green Liberals formed their own parliamentary group (GL) and the three Christian parties formed the Christian-Evangelical Group (CE).

Currently (for the legislative period of 2019–2023), the six parliamentary groups are composed as follows:

Group Parties NC CS Total
People's parliamentary group (V) Swiss People's Party 53 6 62
Ticino League 1 0
Federal Democratic Union 1 0
Independent 0 1
Social Democrats parliamentary group (S) Social Democratic Party 39 8 47
Centre parliamentary group CVP-EVP-BDP (M-CEB) Christian Democratic People's Party 25 14 45
Conservative Democratic Party 3 0
Evangelical People's Party 3 0
FDP.The Liberals parliamentary group (RL) FDP.The Liberals 29 12 41
Green parliamentary group (G) Green Party 28 5 35
Swiss Party of Labour 1 0
solidaritéS 1 0
Green Liberal parliamentary group (GL) Green Liberal Party 16 0 16

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Federal Act on Data Protection of 19 June 1992 (status as of 1 January 2014), Federal Chancellery of Switzerland (page visited on 18 September 2016).
  2. ^ "Parliamentary groups". www.parlament.ch. Retrieved 11 December 2019.


External links[edit]