A duty to the public

Federal Council meetings are not open to the public. However, the Federal Council informs the cantons, parliament and the public in detail about its decisions and projects. 

Guy Parmelin, Ignazio Cassis and Karin Keller-Sutter speak at a Federal Council press conference on the Institutional Agreement and the Limitation Initiative. Bern, 7 June 2019. (KEYSTONE/Peter Schneider)

The Federal Council is required to inform the Federal Assembly, cantons and the public not only about its decisions, but also about its situation analyses, planning and measures it takes. It is also required to foster its relations with the public and to keep abreast of opinions and concerns raised by the general public.

Federal Council spokesperson supports the Federal Council

The Federal Council is supported in its duty to inform the public by the Federal Chancellery and the Federal Council spokesperson. The current spokesperson is Vice Chancellor André Simonazzi.

Press conferences after Federal Council meetings

Directly following Federal Council meetings, press conferences are held in the Federal Palace Media Centre. The Federal Council members responsible for the particular items of business and the Federal Council spokesperson provide information about the discussions and decisions made at the meetings.

Federal Council press conferences live on the internet

Only members of the media can attend the press conferences; members of the general public can watch them live at admin.ch/tv. In addition, press releases are published for most items of business. Parliament and the cantons are informed in writing of any decisions before the press release.

Information necessary to form an opinion

Information is particularly important in the run up to popular votes and referendums. Three to four weeks before these are held, the Federal Council publishes a brochure which explains in simple terms the issues up for vote and the arguments for and against.

A voting guide in the form of a brochure is also published before the National Council elections held every four years. 

No democracy without transparency

Citizens can only enjoy their rights if they have access to information about the state’s activities and the country’s laws. The internet plays a key role in this.

All laws now online

The Confederation publishes online the complete body of laws, the Federal Gazette including official publications, and numerous reports, studies and expert reports. 

Anybody can ask to view administrative documents

The Freedom of Information Act of 2004 allows anybody to ask to see official documents. They must be permitted to do so unless there are overriding interests which prevent this. 

The Federal Council spokesperson

Switzerland has had a Federal Council spokesperson since 2000. The spokesperson’s tasks include:

  • informing the public on behalf of the Federal Council;
  • advising the Federal Council and its members on issues relating to information and communication;
  • coordinating the information activities of the Federal Council, government departments and the Federal Chancellery.

The Federal Council appoints a senior member of the Federal Chancellery as their spokesperson. 

Last modification 16.05.2024

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