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Switzerland: Government#

Country nameconventional long form: Swiss Confederation
conventional short form: Switzerland
local long form: Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft (German); Confederation Suisse (French); Confederazione Svizzera (Italian); Confederaziun Svizra (Romansh)
local short form: Schweiz (German); Suisse (French); Svizzera (Italian); Svizra (Romansh)
etymology: name derives from the canton of Schwyz, one of the founding cantons of the Old Swiss Confederacy that formed in the 14th century
Government typefederal republic (formally a confederation)
CapitalBern Bern
geographic coordinates: 46 55 N, 7 28 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions26 cantons (cantons, singular - canton in French; cantoni, singular - cantone in Italian; Kantone, singular - Kanton in German); Aargau, Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Basel-Landschaft, Basel-Stadt, Berne/Bern, Fribourg/Freiburg, Geneve, Glarus, Graubuenden/Grigioni/Grischun, Jura, Luzern, Neuchatel, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Sankt Gallen, Schaffhausen, Schwyz, Solothurn, Thurgau, Ticino, Uri, Valais/Wallis, Vaud, Zug, Zuerich
note: 6 of the cantons - Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Basel-Landschaft, Basel-Stadt, Nidwalden, Obwalden - are referred to as half cantons because they elect only one member to the Council of States and, in popular referendums where a majority of popular votes and a majority of cantonal votes are required, these six cantons only have a half vote
Independence1 August 1291 (founding of the Swiss Confederation)
National holidayFounding of the Swiss Confederation in 1291; note - since 1 August 1891 celebrated as Swiss National Day
Constitutionhistory: previous 1848, 1874; latest adopted by referendum 18 April 1999, effective 1 January 2000
amendments: proposed by the two houses of the Federal Assembly or by petition of at least one million voters (called the "federal popular initiative"); passage of proposals requires majority vote in a referendum; following drafting of an amendment by the Assembly, its passage requires approval by majority vote in a referendum and approval by the majority of cantons; amended many times, last in 2016 (2016)
Legal systemcivil law system; judicial review of legislative acts, except for federal decrees of a general obligatory character
International law organization participationaccepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Citizenshipcitizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Switzerland
dual citizenship recognized: yes
residency requirement for naturalization: 12 years including at least 3 of the last 5 years prior to application
Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: President of the Swiss Confederation Doris LEUTHARD (since 1 January 2017); Vice President Alain BERSET (since 1 January 2017; note - the Federal Council, which is comprised of 7 federal councillors, constitutes the federal government of Switzerland; council members rotate in a 1-year term as federal president (chief of state and head of government)
head of government: President of the Swiss Confederation Doris LEUTHARD (since 1 January 2017); Vice President Alain BERSET (since 1 January 2017)
cabinet: Federal Council or Bundesrat (in German), Conseil Federal (in French), Consiglio Federale (in Italian) indirectly elected usually from among its members by the Federal Assembly for a 4-year term
elections/appointments: president and vice president indirectly elected by the Federal Assembly from among members of the Federal Council for a 1-year, non-consecutive term; election last held on 7 December 2016 (next to be held in early December 2017)
election results: Doris LEUTHARD elected president; Federal Assembly vote - 188 of 207; Alain BERSET elected vice president
Legislative branchdescription: bicameral Federal Assembly or Bundesversammlung - in German, Assemblee Federale - in French, Assemblea Federale - in Italian consists of the Council of States or Staenderat - in German, Conseil des Etats - in French, Consiglio degli Stati - in Italian (46 seats; members in multi-seat constituencies representing cantons and single-seat constituencies representing half cantons directly elected by simple majority vote; members serve 4-year terms) and the National Council or Nationalrat - in German, Conseil National - in French, Consiglio Nazionale - in Italian (200 seats; 195 members in cantons directly elected by proportional representation vote and 5 in half cantons directly elected by simple majority vote; members serve 4-year terms)
elections: Council of States - last held in most cantons on 18 October 2015 (each canton determines when the next election will be held); National Council - last held on 18 October 2015 (next to be held in October 2019)
election results: Council of States - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party (as of 18 October 2015) - Christian Democratic People's Party 13, FDP.The Liberals 13, SDP 12, Swiss People's Party 6, other 2; National Council - percent of vote by party - SVP 29.4%, SPS 18.8%, FDP 16.4%, CVP 11.6%, Green Party 7.1%, GLP 4.6%, BDP 4.1%, other 8.0%; seats by party - SVP 65, SPS 43, FDP 33, CVP 27, Green Party 11, GLP 7, BDP 7, other 7
Judicial branchhighest court(s): Federal Supreme Court (consists of 38 judges and 31 substitutes and organized into 5 sections)
judge selection and term of office: judges elected by the Federal Assembly for 6-year terms; note - judges are affiliated with political parties and are elected according to linguistic and regional criteria in approximate proportion to the level of party representation in the Federal Assembly
subordinate courts: Federal Criminal Court (began in 2004); Federal Administrative Court (began in 2007); note - each of Switzerland's 26 cantons has its own courts
Political parties and leadersChristian Democratic People's Party (Christlichdemokratische Volkspartei der Schweiz or CVP, Parti Democrate-Chretien Suisse or PDC, Partito Popolare Democratico Svizzero or PPD, Partida Cristiandemocratica dalla Svizra or PCD) (Gerhard PFISTER)
Conservative Democratic Party (Buergerlich-Demokratische Partei Schweiz or BDP, Parti Bourgeois Democratique Suisse or PBD, Partito Borghese Democratico Svizzero or PBD, Partido burgais democratica Svizera or PBD) (Martin LANDOLT)
Free Democratic Party or FDP.The Liberals (FDP.Die Liberalen, PLR.Les Liberaux-Radicaux, PLR.I Liberali, Ils Liberals) (Petra GOESSI)
Green Liberal Party (Grunliberale or GLP, Parti vert liberale or PVL, Partito Verde-Liberale or PVL, Partida Verde Liberale or PVL) (Martin BAEUMLE)
Green Party (Gruene Partei der Schweiz or Gruene, Parti Ecologiste Suisse or Les Verts, Partito Ecologista Svizzero or I Verdi, Partida Ecologica Svizra or La Verda) (Regula RYTZ)
Social Democratic Party (Sozialdemokratische Partei der Schweiz or SPS, Parti Socialiste Suisse or PSS, Partito Socialista Svizzero or PSS, Partida Socialdemocratica de la Svizra or PSS) (Christian LEVRAT)
Swiss People's Party (Schweizerische Volkspartei or SVP, Union Democratique du Centre or UDC, Unione Democratica di Centro or UDC, Uniun Democratica dal Center or UDC) (Albert ROESTI)
other minor parties
Political pressure groups and leadersNA
International organization participationADB (nonregional member), AfDB (nonregional member), Australia Group, BIS, CD, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EFTA, EITI (implementing country), ESA, FAO, FATF, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IGAD (partners), ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAIA (observer), MIGA, MINUSMA, MONUSCO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OIF, OPCW, OSCE, Pacific Alliance (observer), Paris Club, PCA, PFP, Schengen Convention, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNMISS, UNMOGIP, UNRWA, UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the USchief of mission: Ambassador Martin DAHINDEN (since 18 November 2014)
chancery: 2900 Cathedral Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: (1) (202) 745-7900
FAX: (1) (202) 387-2564
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the USchief of mission: Ambassador Suzan G. LEVINE (since 2 June 2014); note - also accredited to Liechtenstein
embassy: Sulgeneckstrasse 19, CH-3007 Bern
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: (41) (031) 357-70-11
FAX: (41) (031) 357-73-44
Flag descriptionred square with a bold, equilateral white cross in the center that does not extend to the edges of the flag; various medieval legends purport to describe the origin of the flag; a white cross used as identification for troops of the Swiss Confederation is first attested at the Battle of Laupen (1339)
National symbol(s)Swiss cross (white cross on red field, arms equal length); national colors: red, white
National anthemthe Swiss anthem has four names: "Schweizerpsalm" (German) "Cantique Suisse" (French) "Salmo svizzero," (Italian) "Psalm svizzer" (Romansch) (Swiss Psalm)lyrics/music: Leonhard WIDMER (German), Charles CHATELANAT (French), Camillo VALSANGIACOMO (Italian), and Flurin CAMATHIAS (Romansch)/Alberik ZWYSSIG

note: unofficially adopted 1961, officially 1981; the anthem has been popular in a number of Swiss cantons since its composition (in German) in 1841; translated into the other three official languages of the country (French, Italian, and Romansch), it is official in each of those languages