Federal Council election

Switzerland’s Federal Council is elected by the United Federal Assembly, that is, by the two parliamentary chambers jointly. The election takes place every four years in December, following the election of the entire National Council.

Federal election, Bern 9.12.2015. Keystone - Lukas Lehmann

Requirements for being elected to the Federal Council

  • Any Swiss citizen with the right to vote is eligible to stand for election to the Federal Council, and does not necessarily have to be an official candidate or a member of the Swiss parliament.
  • Parliament must ensure that the different regions and language communities of Switzerland are fairly represented in the Federal Council. There are no specific rules on this.
  • Federal Council members may not hold another post in the service of the Confederation or a canton; they must therefore chose one or the other following their election.

Federal Council election procedure

  • The Federal Assembly votes by secret ballot in several rounds.
  • Serving members of the Federal Council stand for re-election in the order of their length of time in office.
  • Any person eligible to be elected to the Federal Council (see above) can receive votes in the first two rounds of voting.
  • From the third round, no new application is accepted: only those who received votes in the first two rounds can receive votes. If no candidate gets an absolute majority (that is to say, more than half of the valid votes cast), the person with the fewest votes is eliminated in the next round.
  • The process is repeated until someone receives the absolute majority of votes, and is therefore declared elected.
  • The members of the Federal Council are elected for a four-year term of office.
  • Afterwards, the president and vice president of the Swiss Confederation are elected for the coming year.

Election of the President of the Swiss Confederation

Each year in December, parliament elects the President of the Swiss Confederation from among the seven Federal Councillors for a twelve-month term of office.

Last modification 25.10.2023

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