No more political 'magic': Swiss News attempts to decipher--in simple terms--the changing face of the Swiss political system.

AuteurSethi, Aradhna
Fonction Politics

The October election results have garnered international interest and attention to Swiss politics and the forthcoming parliamentary election on December 10, 2003.

There have been speculations aplenty on how the Swiss political system may change and impact not just the national, but also the International scene.

International media has looked at how the 'magic formula' may be all set to change in this 100 per cent democratic country.

Swiss News has set out on its own voyage into the political scene to try and simplify the system for readers who need to refresh their general knowledge on politics and those who are keen to know more about the basics of the system.

So what is the 'magic formula'? For this, we first need to know how the politics of this country works.

Basic Politics in a Nutshell

In Switzerland, all citizens over 18 years of age directly elect their Parliament. The parliament comprises the National Council (or the House of Representatives), which has 200 members and the Council of the States with 46 members or cantonal representatives. These together form the Legislative authority.

The Legislative authority or the Parliament then elects the judicial arm or the Supreme Court and arm the government or the seven members of the Federal Council and the Federal Chancellor, which make up the Executive arm for a period of four years. These seven members form the cabinet, each of them heading a ministry.

This is where the so-called 'magic formula' comes in as the cabinet posts of these seven members shared out in an informal power sharing agreement reached among the four main parties in 1959.

The 'magic formula', a result of a compromise among the parties, is not based on any written law or legal principle. The only implicit factor here is that three of the seven cabinet seats should be reserved for French and Italian sparkers.

Working the 'magic' are three parties--Social Democrats, Christian Democrats, Radicals--with two cabinet positions each, and the fourth--the Swiss People's Party--with one. Hence, all the main parties are represented in the government and there are no major clashes in the Swiss parliament. The government derision-making is thus based on compromise. And it is the people of Switzerland who fulfill the role of an opposition when needed, by seeking out initiatives and referendas. This makes the system regulate itself by way of direct democracy.

The Current Situation

On October 19, 2003, the Swiss elected the National...

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