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Old 08.10.2007, 11:45
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Election Enlightment

After talking this weekend to some Swiss about the upcoming elections, I’m none the wiser about the way it works.
Maybe my French isn’t strong enough,but I failed to see how things will change, it seems that the “Cabinet” of 7 chosen ministers who are in charge, will continue no matter what the outcome of the elections, and that the only way this “Cabinet” changes is by mutual agreement amongst themselves, thus keeping the political mixture of the ruling elite equally divided and without any majority when it comes to decision making.
So can someone tell me if these upcoming elections will have any major significance on the policies and running of this Country. Or will major policy change continue to be in the hands of the people via referendums.

Confused and obviously ignorant
Nick.
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Old 08.10.2007, 12:06
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Re: Election Enlightment

Yes, the elections will make a difference. The elections are for Switzerland's version of the House of Commons - the Nationalrad. This is composed of quite a number of parties. The SP (Socialists) and SVP (Swiss People's Party - right) being the largest.

The equivalent of the cabinet (Bundesrad) is as you say is quite undemocratic and is made of according to a 'magic formula'. First devised in 1957 and revised in 2003. It is ironic that while at the bottom of the pile Switzerland is ultra democratic, at the very top it isn't. However, the change in voting patterns and the rise of the SVP forced a change in 2003 and the SVP were given an extra seat and Bundesradin Ruth Metzlet has to go.

The last few years have seen a swing away from consensus politics where the whole parliament voted in similar ways and in fact the people were almost the opposition (as with the Vote to join the European Economic Area in 1992). Personally I expect to see a continuation of the polarisation of Swiss politics with gains from the left and right at the expense of the moderate centre.

It would take a big change for a further alteration to the cabinet, but we might yet see that too.

The 'magic formula' based on parties, language and now sex, has served Switzerland well and brought great stability and continuity to Swiss politics.

(Sorry if my dates are a bit off this was quickly of the top of my head.)
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Old 08.10.2007, 12:15
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Re: Election Enlightment

For more detail check the Elections 2007, Background section on SwissInfo.
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Old 08.10.2007, 12:23
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Re: Election Enlightment

Thanks for that AbFab,
So I see the analogy between the House of Commons and the Nationalrad, however, because of the autonomy of the cantons, can a majority party in the Nationalrad carry out their election manifesto of e.g. “vote for us for Lower Taxes, more spending on education, more policing “ or is that still implemented on a cantonal level.
Which brings me to another question, can a canton have a different political make up to the Natiionalrad and therefore different polices to the Federal ruling party?
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Old 08.10.2007, 12:29
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Re: Election Enlightment

Wow! Until now, I thought that I didn't really understand the Swiss political system. Now I know that I have completely no idea how it all works. Thanks for the enlightenment.
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Old 08.10.2007, 13:07
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Re: Election Enlightment

There's more about the system here - Wikipedia reference-linkSwiss_federal_election,_2003
It gives the names of the two chambers and the political parties in 4 languages.
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Old 12.10.2007, 00:30
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Re: Election Enlightment

Actually the Bundesrat (or government , what some of you called cabinet) is elected by the Parliament. ...and the Parliament is elected by the swiss citizens. So there is still a little democracy in the election at the top in my opinion....

If you are interested, you can go and hear the debates in the tribunes. All sessions are open to the public. And under the links above, I'm sure you'll find the programme of the session in the Parliament. A direct translation in our national languages is provided there (headphones) if you're more familiar with other languages than german.

When there is no session, you can go on a (free) guided tour of the Parliament. There are tours in English as well (please correct me if my infos aren't updated).
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Old 12.10.2007, 14:33
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Re: Election Enlightment

I heard from a friend close to people in the Bundesrat that when parliament will elect the Bundesrat in December, it might be possible that a majority will want to get rid of Blocher.

Now wouldn't that be interesting.
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Old 12.10.2007, 16:33
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Re: Election Enlightment

Dear Reader
I know it is not the simplest system of a democracy. But I think I am not able to understand the system of a different country anyway. I tried to understand the elections here in Ireland this spring but I couldn’t.
There is a (I think) good translated homepage of the Swiss federal system in English.
http://www.bk.admin.ch/dokumentation/02070/index.html?lang=en
Hope that will help you a bit.

Small summary is:
Swiss citizen elect politicians into the National Council (Nationalrat) and Council of States (Staenderat). These two groups together are the United Federal Assembly.
The UFA elects 7 politicians by the Magic Formula and then you have the Federal Council (Bundesrat).
Every year there is a different politician from the Federal Council elected to be the president.

And please write “National/ Staenderat” and not “-rad”. It has nothing to do with a bike. It comes from “beraten”.



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Old 16.10.2007, 13:38
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Re: Election Enlightment

Quote:
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Small summary is:
Swiss citizen elect politicians into the National Council (Nationalrat) and Council of States (Staenderat). These two groups together are the United Federal Assembly.
The UFA elects 7 politicians by the Magic Formula and then you have the Federal Council (Bundesrat).
Every year there is a different politician from the Federal Council elected to be the president.
That's about it. Just one little remark: the magic formula is just an informal, unwritten agreement, and the UFA is in no way required to adhere to it, though they usually do.

For those that know the US system better, the Nationalrat pretty much is the equivalent of Congress, while the Ständerat is the same as the Senate.
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Old 17.10.2007, 23:02
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Re: Election Enlightment

This link explains things quite nicely.
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Old 19.10.2007, 10:37
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Re: Election Enlightment

Quote:
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This link explains things quite nicely.
Thanks for that! very succinct (as in "all you ever wanted to know but were afraid to ask"...)
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Old 21.10.2007, 13:57
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Re: Election Enlightment

Just to show that almost noone can understand the election, here is an example from the Kanton where I live. Although the SVP increased ( ) their vote by 3% but they gained no extra seat ( ) in the Nationalrat. On the other hand the CVP lost ground by 3% and managed to gain a seat......

http://tagesschau.sf.tv/wahlen07/wah...e_resultate/ag
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Old 21.10.2007, 15:56
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Re: Election Enlightment

That's cos it's a system of proportional representation. In this e.g. the EVP who barely had enough votes for a seat have lost ground and therefore their seat. Despite the gain the SVP don't have sufficient votes for a further seat. It takes some maths though. btw, the example you posted is just a prediction at present (I think).
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