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. 

Didier Burkhalter (left) and Johann Schneider-Ammann explain the Federal Council’s deci-sions on relations with the EU on 12 July 2012.
Didier Burkhalter (left) and Johann Schneider-Ammann explain the Federal Council’s decisions on relations with the EU on 12 July 2012. (KEYSTONE/Lukas Lehmann)

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.

A press conference after each Federal Council meeting

Directly following a Federal Council meeting, a press conference is held in the Federal Palace Media Centre. The members of the Federal Council responsible for the particular item of business under discussion and the Federal Council spokesperson provide information about the discussions and decisions made at the meeting.

Federal Council press conference live on the internet

Only members of the media can attend the press conference; members of the general public can watch it live at admin.ch/tv. A press release is also published on 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. 

Federal Councillor Alain Berset, left, and Federal Council Spokesman Andre Simonazzi heading to a press conference - September 2013. (Keystone/Peter Schneider)
Federal Councillor Alain Berset, left, and Federal Council Spokesman Andre Simonazzi heading to a press conference - September 2013. (Keystone/Peter Schneider)

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. The post is currently held by Vice Chancellor André Simonazzi.  

Last modification 15.06.2018

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