The independent city guide to Zurich


This year, autumn is going to be hot in Switzerland. Well, at least, politically speaking. On October 20, Swiss citizens will elect representatives for both chambers of the national parliament for the next four years. The larger chamber, the Nationalrat, is elected in a proportional voting system, with each of the nation’s 26 cantons being constituencies. In each canton, seats are allocated according to the strength of a party. The smaller chamber, or Ständerat, consists of two members from each canton, mostly elected by a majority vote.

But unlike many other countries, the results do not immediately affect the Swiss government, as it always consists of all four major parties. The system of frequent referendums and strong people’s rights (every bill can be brought to a people’s vote if 50,000 signatures have been acquired) forces the parties to collaborate and accept compromises in all areas. This is why Switzerland has such stable political conditions. But make no mistake, the parties often fight tooth and nail for their preferred solutions.

Despite the hype, Swiss elections usually bring only slight shifts in political power. Recent polls see the SVP conservative nationalists as the strongest party again, despite some losses, and slight gains for the greens and the social democrats. But no matter who claims victory, we’re positive that Switzerland will keep functioning like clockwork after the elections.

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