Also: die Schweiz; Suisse; Svizzera; Svizra.
Officially: Confoederatio Helvetica; Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft; Confédération Suisse; Confederazione Svizzera; Confederaziun Svizra.
English: Switzerland.
Seat of government: Bern / Bärn.
Status: Democratic.
Structure: The federal parliament (Bundesversammlung) comprises the Nationalrat, elected by proportional representation within the cantons, and the Ständerat, elected with equal representation by each canton. The Bundesversammlung as a whole chooses the federal government, led by a Bundeskanzler and a Bundesrat of seven ministers, one of whom serves as Bundespräsident for a year.
Main governing parties: Schweizerische Volkspartei; Sozialdemokratische Partei; Freisinnig-Demokratische Partei; Christlichdemokratische Volkspartei.
Heads of government: Walter Thurnherr, CVP, Bundeskanzler (since 2016); Doris Leuthard, CVP, Bundespräsident (since 2017).
Other parliamentary parties: Grüne Partei der Schweiz; Grünliberale Partei der Schweiz; Bürgerlich-Demokratische Partei; Evangelische Volkspartei der Schweiz (CVP bloc); Lega dei Ticinesi (SVP bloc); Partei der Arbeit der Schweiz (GPS bloc); Mouvement Citoyens Genevois (SVP bloc); Christlich-soziale Partei (CVP bloc).
Assessment: Historic geopolitical neutrality that has meant an often-denied moral neutrality, which occasionally has led to behavior that supports tyranny, as with the Nazis. Long republican tradition. The cantons retain much of governmental power, and direct democracy is unusually common. The governing coalition in the Bundesrat for five decades (1959-2007) was the “Zauberformel” of two seats each for the SP, FDP, and CVP, and one for the SVP; this was supposedly based on party strength in the Bundesversammlung. In the 2003 elections the SVP became the largest party and was given a second seat at the expense of the new smallest party, the CVP. SVP leader Christoph Blocher took the seat, but in 2007 the Bundesversammlung elected another SVP member in his stead, despite an increase in the SVP’s plurality. The SVP subsequently withdrew from the government, and the two SVP ministers formed a splinter party, the BDP, with minimal parliamentary support. Ueli Maurer of the SVP was chosen for a seat in the executive for 2009 to replace a retiring BDP minister. Corina Casanova (2008-15) of the CVP became Bundeskanzlerin in 2008. In a 2015 election, the SVP won a record third of the popular vote, and the remaining BDP minister, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, resigned to make way for a second SVP minister. Thurnherr was elected unopposed and succeeded Casanova at the beginning of 2016.
FH: 1-1, free. Econ: 9.09 (7), full democracy.
Updated: 2017 March 25.