Council of States (Switzerland)

Council of States
Ständerat  (German)
Conseil des États  (French)
Consiglio degli Stati  (Italian)
Cussegl dals Stadis  (Romansh)
Coat of arms or logo
Type
Type
Leadership
Ivo Bischofberger, CVP/PDC, AI
28 Nov 2016 – 27 Nov 2017
First Vice President
Karin Keller-Sutter, FDP/PLR, SG
28 Nov 2016 – 27 Nov 2017
Second Vice President
Jean-René Fournier, CVP/PDC, VS
28 Nov 2016 – 27 Nov 2017
Structure
Seats46
Council of States (Switzerland) Nov 2015.svg
Political groups

Government parties (43)

Other parliamentary parties (3)

Elections
Last election
18 October 2015[1]
Meeting place
Bundeshaus - Ständeratssaal - 001.jpg
Federal Palace of Switzerland, Bern
Website
http://www.parliament.ch/
Coat of Arms of Switzerland (Pantone).svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Switzerland

The Council of States (German: Ständerat, French: Conseil des États, 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, with the National Council being the lower house. There are 46 Councillors.[2]

Twenty of the country's cantons are represented by two Councillors each. Six cantons, traditionally called "half cantons", are represented by one Councillor each for historical reasons. These are Obwalden, Nidwalden, Basel-Stadt, Basel-Landschaft, Appenzell Ausserrhoden and Appenzell Innerrhoden.[3]

The Councillors serve for four years, and are not bound in their vote to instructions from the cantonal authorities.

Elections

Under the Swiss Federal Constitution, the mode of election to the Council of States is left to the cantons, the proviso being that it must be a democratic method. All cantons now provide for the councillors to be chosen by popular election (historically it was typically the cantons' parliaments that elected representatives to Bern), however those eligible to vote varies according to the applicable cantonal law (notable variances are that qualified foreigners may vote in Neuchâtel, and the minimum voting age is 16 in Glarus).

In all cantons except for Appenzell Innerrhoden, the councillors are elected concurrently with the members of the National Council. In the Appenzell Innerrhoden the representative is elected by the physically convened popular assembly (Landsgemeinde) the April prior to the national vote.

With the exception of the cantons of Neuchâtel and Jura, where a proportional representation election system is used, the representatives are elected by majority vote in either one or two rounds of voting.[4]