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National Council (Switzerland)

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National Council (Switzerland)

National Council
Nationalrat  (German)
Conseil National  (French)
Consiglio Nazionale  (Italian)
Cussegl Naziunal  (Romansh)
Coat of arms or logo
Stéphane RossiniSPS/PSS
Since 24 November 2014
First Vice President
Christa MarkwalderFDP/PLR
Since 24 November 2014
First Vice President councillor
Jürg StahlSVP/UDC
Since 24 November 2014
Seats 200
Political groups

Government parties (167)

  •      SVP 54
  •      SP 46
  •      FDP 30
  •      CVP 28
  •      BDP 9

Other parliamentary parties (33)

Party-list proportional representation
Hagenbach-Bischoff system
Last election
23 October 2011
Next election
18 October 2015
Meeting place
Federal Palace of Switzerland, Bern

The National Council (German: Nationalrat, French: Conseil National, Italian: Consiglio Nazionale, Romansh: Cussegl Naziunal) is the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland. With 200 seats, it is the larger of the two houses.

Members are elected by adult citizens, along with the Swiss Council of States. 4.6 million citizens were eligible to vote in 2003. The members, called 'National Councillors', serve four-year terms.


  • Proportional voting 1
    • Fictional voter 1.1
  • 2011 election 2
  • Committees 3
    • Supervisory committees 3.1
    • Other committees 3.2
  • Members per canton 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes and references 6

Proportional voting

Each of Switzerland's 26 cantons is a constituency. The number of deputies for each constituency depends on the canton's population, but each canton has at least one deputy.

Each canton then uses a unique system of proportional representation, sometimes called a "free list". Each citizen may cast a vote for any candidate for every seat available to their constituency, with up to one candidate being voted for twice. For every vote received by a candidate, that candidate's party also receives a vote. Voters also list a party vote, in which all blank candidate votes contribute towards the parties total.

The seats are then apportioned using the Hagenbach-Bischoff System. This system is unique in that it allows voters to split their vote across different parties, depending on which candidate the voter prefers.[1]

Fictional voter

To determine a party's strength, the notion of "fictional voter" was introduced and is defined by the Swiss Federal Statistical Institute as: number of votes obtained by party A * (number of valid ballots / number of valid votes). Individual voters can choose to make fewer than the permissible number of votes. The number of valid votes / number of valid ballots closely match the number of deputies a canton needs to elect. More exactly, this number represents the average number of valid votes per voter. The formula can then be summed up by: number of votes obtained by party A / average of valid votes per voters.

The result is the number of fictional voters for a given party in a given canton. A total number of fictional voters can then be established and the party strength can be deduced.

The number of deputies in each party is determined at the cantonal level using proportional representation with the Hagenbach-Bischoff system (except in single-member cantons.) The election's turnout is computed as: number of valid ballots cast / number of registered voters.

2011 election

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

The National Council election in 2011 resulted in the strengthening of the political center and the reversing of the trend towards polarisation in Swiss politics that took place during the 1990s and 2000s. During this election, centrist parties gained about 7% of the popular vote, with the right pole losing 3.6% and the left pole losing 3.5%. Voter turnout was 48.5%, compared to 48.3% in 2007.

 Summary of the 23 October 2011 National Council of Switzerland election results
Parties Abbr. Alignment Ideology Votes[2] % +/– (%) Seats % +/– (seats)
Swiss People's Party SVP/UDC Right-wing/Far-right National conservatism 648,675 26.6 −2.3 54 27 −8
Social Democratic Party SPS/PSS Left Social democracy 457,317 18.7 +0.8 46 23.0 +3
FDP.The Liberals FDP/PLR Right/Right-wing Classical liberalism 368,951 15.1 −0.7 30 15.0 −1
Christian Democratic People's Party CVP/PDC Centre-right/Centre Christian democracy 300,544 12.3 −2.2 28 14.0 −3
Green Party GPS/PES Centre-left Green politics 205,984 8.4 −1.2 15 7.5 −5
Green Liberal Party GLP/PVL Centre Green liberalism 131,436 5.4 +4.0 12 6.0 +9
Conservative Democratic Party BDP/PBD Right/right-wing Conservatism / Economic liberalism 132,279 5.4 +5.4 9 4.5 +9
Evangelical People's Party EVP/PEV Centre Christian democracy 48,789 2.0 −0.4 2 1.0 ±0
Party of Labour PdA Left-wing Socialism 21,482 0.5 −0.2 0 0 −1
Ticino League LdT Far-right Regionalism / Right-wing populism 19,657 0.8 +0.2 2 1.0 +1
Christian Social Party CSP/PCS Centre-left Christian left 6,248 0.6 -0.2 1 0.5 ±0
Geneva Citizens' Movement MCG Right-wing/Far-right Regionalism / Right-wing populism 10,714 0.6 +0.6 1 0.5 +1
Federal Democratic Union EDU/UDF Right-wing Christian right 31,056 1.3 ±0 0 0 −1
Other 54,622 2.2 0 0
Total (turnout 48.5%) 2,442,648 200
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office (French)


  • Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC)
  • Committee for Science, Education and Culture (CSEC)
  • Committee for Social Security and Health (CSSH)
  • Committee for the Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy (CESPE)
  • Defence Committee (DefC)
  • Committee for Transportation and Telecommunications (CTT)
  • Committee for Economic Affairs and Taxation (CEAT)
  • Political Institutions Committees (PIC)
  • Committee for Legal Affairs (CLA)
  • Committee for Public Buildings (CPB)

Supervisory committees

  • Finance Committee (FC)
  • Control Committees (CC)
  • Parliamentary investigation committees (PIC)

Other committees

  • Committee on Pardons
  • Rehabilitation Committee
  • Drafting Committee
  • Judicial Committee

Members per canton

Development of composition of the Swiss National Council, 1919-2011
Abbr Canton Number of Seats Population (2009) Population per seat
ZH  Zurich 34 1,406,083 41,355
BE  Bern 26 985,046 37,886
LU  Lucerne 10 381,966 38,197
UR  Uri 1 35,382 35,382
SZ  Schwyz 4 147,904 36,976
OW  Obwalden 1 35,878 35,878
NW  Nidwalden 1 41,311 41,311
GL  Glarus 1 39,217 39,217
ZG  Zug 3 113,597 37,866
FR  Fribourg 7 284,668 40,667
SO  Solothurn 7 259,836 37,119
BS  Basel-Stadt 5 194,090 38,818
BL  Basel-Landschaft 7 277,973 39,710
SH  Schaffhausen 2 77,139 38,570
AR  Appenzell Ausserrhoden 1 53,313 53,313
AI  Appenzell Innerrhoden 1 15,789 15,789
SG  St. Gallen 12 483,101 40,258
GR  Graubünden 5 193,388 38,678
AG  Aargau 15 624,681 41,645
TG  Thurgau 6 254,528 42,421
TI  Ticino 8 336,943 42,118
VD  Vaud 18 725,944 40,330
VS  Valais 8 317,022 45,289
NE  Neuchâtel 5 173,183 34,637
GE  Geneva 11 472,530 42,957
JU  Jura 2 70,542 35,271

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^
  2. ^ These numbers represent fictional voters. See National Council for more details.
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