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Federal Authorities

Descriptio of Swiss Federal Authorities

The Confederation is the term used in Switzerland for the state. It is made up of the executive (the Federal Council), the legislature (the Federal Assembly) and the judiciary (the Federal Supreme Court).

Switzerland is made up of 26 cantons. They are the regional areas which united in 1848 to form the Confederation, to which they each handed over part of their sovereignty.

The municipalities are the lowest level of the state structure with all cantons divided up into municipalities. In addition to the tasks allocated to them by their canton and also by the Confederation, the municipalities also have their own powers in various areas.

Swiss Democracy
Direct democracy means that Swiss citizens are able to influence political decisions to a large extent. At federal level, Swiss citizens over the age of 18 can vote to elect members of parliament and decide on changes to the law and the Constitution. Citizens are entitled to demand a change to the Constitution by means of a «popular initiative» which requires the signatures of 100,000 entitled to vote within a collection period of 18 months. This gives the people the power to intervene directly in decision-making with regard to legislation and constitutional provisions. Another possibility is to hand in a «referendum» against a proposed law, which requires 50,000 voters or eight cantons within 100 days of its official publication.

For more information about the political organisation follow the link to or download the guide The Swiss Confederation - a brief guide (

Further informations

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