Basic information about the territory
- System of governance and political tendencies in the country
- Foreign policy of the country
The system of governance and political tendencies in the country
Official name of the state: Swiss Confederation, Switzerland for short – German: Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft, French: Conféderation suisse, Italian: Confederazione Svizzera, Romansh: Confederaziun svizra.
System of governance : Switzerland consists of 26 autonomous cantons (of which 6 are so-called semi-cantons) with their own parliament, government, laws, budget and constitution. The Swiss Parliament consists of two chambers: the National Council (House of Representatives) with 200 members and the Estates Council (Senate) with 46 members. 6 political factions are represented in the National Council, which includes members of 15 political parties. Executive power is in the hands of the seven-member federal government. It is elected by both chambers of the parliament every 4 years after the parliamentary elections. The Federal Council (government) is always represented by 4 political parties with the largest share of votes, which govern on the basis of the so-called concordance principle. Its chairman is the federal president, i.e. one of the members of the government. Check computerminus to learn more about Switzerland political system.
Composition of the Federal Government from 1 January 2022: – Ignazio Cassis, Prime Minister (President) and Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs,
– Alain Berset, Deputy Prime Minister (Vice President), Federal Minister of the Interior, Health and Culture
– Simonetta Sommaruga, Federal Minister of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications,
– Ueli Maurer, Federal Minister of Finance,
– Guy Parmelin, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, Education and Research,
– Viola Amherd, Federal Minister of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport,
– Karin Keller-Sutter, Federal Minister of Justice and Police.
Political atmosphere in the country: The political environment is characterized by stability. In recent times, the leaning of the Swiss, especially in the larger cities, towards the political center-left is noticeable. This trend was also confirmed by the last parliamentary elections in 2019. They led to the shift of the political majority in the National Council from the center-right to the center-left, as both Swiss green parties – the Green Party and the Green Liberal Party – won record numbers of votes. A number of new faces thus entered the parliament, and the share of women’s representation in both chambers reached 42%, or 26%. Compared to other European countries, Switzerland now has the 5th highest number of women in parliament. All other major political parties lost voters, most notably the Swiss People’s Party – SVP, which nevertheless remains the strongest political party. The other main political parties are the Social Democratic Party SP, The liberal-democratic party FDP and the Center party – die Mitte, based on the original Christian Democratic Party. These 3 parties and the SVP have their representatives in the Federal Government. The term of office of the parliament and the government is for 4 years. The next election will thus take place in autumn 2023.
Foreign policy of the country
The foreign policy strategy for the period 2020 – 2023 is based on the long-term Swiss values enshrined in the constitution: freedom, the rule of law, equal opportunities and sustainable development, which are to be promoted mainly by the principles of Swiss military neutrality, multilateralism and universality. The foreign policy document defines 4 pillars. The main instrument to fulfill the first one, labeled Peace and Security, is the membership of the UN Security Council, to which Switzerland is applying as a non-permanent member for the period 2023-2024. At the forefront of the second pillar of Prosperity is the consolidation of relations with the EU, which, however, deteriorated in 2021 due to the failure of the so-called Framework Agreement (IFA). This was supposed to guarantee their further development, in particular to deepen Switzerland’s access to the EU single market. The basis of the third pillar of Sustainability is the 2030 Agenda focused on 17 sustainable development goals and their implementation. The fourth area is Digitization. In it, Switzerland focuses on creating comprehensive and internationally valid rules in the digital space. It is also building a global center for the discussion of digitization and technology in Geneva, which is already home to international organizations and multilateral forums dealing with this issue. The country is also betting on multilateral cooperation, which is a tool for solving climate change, terrorism, the fight against poverty, economic crises or armed conflicts. According to Switzerland, there is no other alternative to multilateralism. This is also why the Swiss want to devote themselves mainly to the reform of the UN, to deepen its partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross and advocate for compliance with international humanitarian law and the smooth functioning of the International Criminal Tribunal. Switzerland also continues to present itself as an attractive host country for holding international conferences, peace talks, etc., where it ranks among the world leaders in the field of conflict prevention, mediation, science, research and innovation. In addition to some EU and EEA member states, the priority countries for Swiss foreign policy are the USA, Turkey, South Africa, India, Japan and Brazil. Relations with Russia are suffering significant cracks as a result of the war in Ukraine. Switzerland is also forced to reassess relations with China based on economic cooperation and pragmatism. Check relationshipsplus for Switzerland defense and foreign policy.
Switzerland’s relations with the EU
Although Switzerland is not a member of the EU, as a country in the heart of Europe, it is economically, politically and socially closely linked with the EU. The fact that Switzerland is not in the EU and, unlike other member countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), is not even part of the European Economic Area (EEA), led to the creation of a specific model of bilateral cooperation with the EU in the form of bilateral sectoral agreements. These agreements, of which there are 120, create the conditions for extensive mutual market access. The strengthening and further development of bilateral relations with EU member countries is of fundamental importance for Switzerland. However, this further development requires the clarification of mutual institutional relations with the EU, which should have been uniformly regulated in the Framework Agreement between Switzerland and the EU (IFA). Both sides have been negotiating it since 2014, but Switzerland announced in May 2021 that that it unilaterally withdraws from the ratification of the IFA and further rejects the umbrella agreement of its relations with the EU. On the contrary, it wants to continue cooperation in the form of other bilateral agreements, especially in the field of healthcare and energy. In 2008, Switzerland joined the Schengen area as an associate member state, and also cooperates with the EU in the field of Common Foreign and Security Policy. It also concluded an agreement with the European Defense Agency and also joins selected EU sanctions regimes, most recently against Russia as a result of the war in Ukraine. In 2017, the agreement between Switzerland and the EU on the automatic exchange of information in the field of financial services entered into force, Switzerland also sends its representatives to the missions of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency FRONTEX. Switzerland is also a member of the “Group of Friends of the Eastern Partnership”.
Although Switzerland is one of the smallest European countries with an area of 41,285 km², with 208 inhabitants per km², it is one of the most densely populated countries in Europe. In 2021, approximately 8.7 million inhabitants lived in Switzerland, of which approximately a quarter are foreigners. The official languages are: German, French, Italian and Romansh.
· Number of inhabitants: 8,73thousand. of which men – 4,337.0 thousand, women – 4,399.5 thousand.
· Foreigners: 2,24thousand, or 25.7% (growing trend)
· Citizens under the age of 20: 19.9%
· Citizens over the age of 65: 19%
· Average age: 42.5
· Population growth: 0.8%
· Population density: 208 inhabitants/km2
In the last 50 years, the religious situation in Switzerland has changed substantially. While the share of the population professing the Roman Catholic religion remained relatively stable, the share of the Evangelical Reformed Church fell sharply in favor of the population with no religious affiliation.
· Roman Catholic Church – 34.4%
· Evangelical Reformed Church – 22.5%
· Islam – 5.4%
· no religion – 29.4%
· other – 7.2%
· religious affiliation unknown – 1.1%
Official languages (*) and other most commonly used languages
The distribution of Switzerland’s official languages has changed over the past four decades. The share of German, Italian and Romansh languages as the main languages declined slightly, while the share of French and other foreign languages increased. The two most frequently mentioned foreign languages are English and Portuguese.
· German* – 62.3%
· French* – 22.8%
· Italian* – 8.0%
· Romansh* – 0.5%
· English – 5.8%
· Portuguese – 3.5%
· Albanian – %
· Serbo-Croatian – 2.3%
· Spanish – 2.4%
· other – 8.2%