Council of States of Switzerland

Council of States of Switzerland
Council of States of Switzerland
German: Ständerat
French: Conseil des Etats
Italian: Consiglio degli Stati
Romansh: Cussegl dals Stadis
Coat of arms or logo
Type upper house
Houses Council of States
National Council
President of the Council of States Hansheiri Inderkum, CVP
since 29 November 2010
Members 46
Political groups CVP/EPP/glp (16), FDP (12), SP (9), SVP (6), Green (2), BDP (1)
Meeting place

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The Council of States of Switzerland (German: Ständerat, French: Conseil des Etats, Italian: Consiglio degli Stati, Romansh: Cussegl dals Stadis) is the smaller chamber of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland, and is considered the Assembly's upper house. There are 46 Councillors.

Twenty of the country's cantons send two Councillors each. Some cantons, namely Obwalden, Nidwalden, Basel-Stadt, Basel-Landschaft, Appenzell Ausserrhoden and Appenzell Innerrhoden, send one Councillor each. The latter six have traditionally been considered "half cantons", because of historical reasons, but in practice operate as full cantons.

The Councillors serve for four years, and are not bound in their vote to instructions from the Cantonal authorities. Under the Swiss Federal Constitution, the mode of election is left to the cantons, the proviso being that it must be a democratic method; however, all cantons now provide for the councillors to be chosen by popular election. In all Cantons except for Zug and Appenzell Innerrhoden, the Councillors are elected concurrently with the members of the National Council. In the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden the representatives are elected by the physically convened popular assembly (Landsgemeinde). With the exception of the Canton of Jura, where a proportional representation election system is used, the representatives are elected by majority vote.

As of 2008, there are 10 women in the Council of States, representing 22% of its membership.


Working languages

In debates, German (High German) and French are used. Italian and Romansh are not used in debates. Debates are not interpreted, which means all representatives must understand German and French.

List of members

Seats by party

e • d Summary of the 21 October, 11 November, 18 November and 25 November 2007 Council of States of Switzerland election results
Parties Ideology 2003 Seats ±
Christian Democratic People's Party (CVP/PDC) Christian democracy 15 15 ±0
Free Democratic Party (FDP/PRD) Classical liberalism 14 12 –2
Social Democratic Party (SPS/PSS) Social democracy 9 9 ±0
Swiss People's Party (SVP/UDC) National conservatism 8 7 –1
Green Party (GPS/PES) Green politics 0 2 +2
Green Liberal Party (GLP/VL) Green liberalism 0 1 +1
Total 46 46

Population per seat

Composition (2010)

The Council of States represents the federal nature of Switzerland: seats are distributed by state (canton), not by population. Consequently, the number of people represented by a single seat in the Council of State varies by a factor of 40, from 15,000 for Appenzell Innerrhoden to 600,000 for Zurich.

Abbr Canton Seats Population ¹ per seat ² 
ZH Zurich 2 1,228,600 614,300 1.0
BE Bern 2 947,100 473,550 1.3
VD Vaud 2 626,200 313,100 2.0
AG Aargau 2 550,900 275,450 2.2
BL Basel-Landschaft 1 261,400 261,400 2.4
SG St. Gallen 2 452,600 226,300 2.7
GE Geneva 2 414,300 207,150 3.0
BS Basel-Stadt 1 186,700 186,700 3.3
LU Luzern 2 350,600 175,300 3.5
TI Ticino 2 311,900 155,950 3.9
VS Valais 2 278,200 139,100 4.4
SO Solothurn 2 245,500 122,750 5.0
FR Fribourg 2 239,100 119,550 5.1
TG Thurgau 2 228,200 114,100 5.4
GR Graubünden 2 185,700 92,850 6.6
NE Neuchâtel 2 166,500 83,250 7.4
SZ Schwyz 2 131,400 65,700 9.4
AR Appenzell Ausserrhoden 1 53,200 53,200 11.5
ZG Zug 2 100,900 50,450 12.2
NW Nidwalden 1 38,600 38,600 15.9
SH Schaffhausen 2 73,400 36,700 16.7
JU Jura 2 69,100 34,550 17.8
OW Obwalden 1 32,700 32,700 18.8
GL Glarus 2 38,300 19,150 32.1
UR Uri 2 35,000 17,500 35.1
AI Appenzell Innerrhoden 1 15,000 15,000 41.0
Overall 46 7,261,200 157,852 3.9

Notes: ¹ Population data from Cantons of Switzerland (2001). ² Relative representation compared to Zürich.

External links

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