Will the 'magic formula' change? The upcoming parliamentary elections could put the Swiss system of consensus and the so-called 'magic formula' to test. If politics changes course toward a system of government and opposition, the country could sail into uncharted waters.

Author:Anderson, Robert (American businessman and engineer)
Position:Politics
 
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On October 19, Swiss voters will once again be called upon to step up to the ballot box and select their favourite candidate for a seat on the country's National Council. The National Council represents the people and comprises 200 members.

At the same time, the election of the members of the Council of States will be carried out in most cantons. Here, legislators are elected to a four-year term, with the possibility, of re-election. The Council of States counts 46 legislators and represents the cantons. Taking into account the present population, one National Council member represents 35,000 constituents. Each canton forms the basis of an electoral district and elects at least one legislator, even if the population falls below 35,000. The Swiss Parliamentary elections take place every four years.

This is followed by the Federal Council elections instituted by the Federal Assembly (which is organised according to political factions, and not along party lines. These factions comprise the same or of ideologically similar parties and must have at least five elected Assembly members). This year, the Federal Council elections will take place on December 10.

The Players

The current breakdown of the 46th Legislature according to the main factions is ms follows: the Free Democratic Party (FDP) with 60 members, the Social Democratic Party (SP) with 58 members, the Christian Democratic People's Party (CVP) with 50, the conservative Swiss People's Party (SVP) faction holding 52 seats, and the Green and Liberal factions representing 10 and 6 members, respectively.

The parties are touting a slew of political platforms and campaign slogans. Among these are the FDP's "For a strong Switzerland"; the SP's "Equality, security and quality of life for all"; the CVP's "Community Switzerland"; the SVP's "Swiss quality"; and the Green Party's "Another world is possible".

Looking Back

Precisely 2,004,540 Swiss voters turned out for the last Parliamentary elections four years ago, corresponding to a voter turnout of 43.4 per cent. In absolute terms, the conservative SVP came out on top, with 22.5 per cent of the popular vote and 51 seats in the overall Federal Assembly. The SP was a very close second at 22.48 per cent and 57 seats, followed by the FDP and CVP, with 19.93 per cent with 61 and 15.78 per cent with 50 seats, respectively.

Since 1959, the four largest political parties--namely, FDP, SP, CVP and SVP--have shared power at the federal level on the...

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