council of states

Swiss Council of States

The Council of States of Switzerland (Ständerat, Conseil des Etats, Consiglio degli Stati, Cussegl dals Stadis) is the smaller chamber of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland, and is considered the Assembly's upper house. There are 46 Councillors.

Twenty of the country's cantons send two Councillors each. The smaller cantons of Obwalden, Nidwalden, Basel-Stadt, Basel-Landschaft, Appenzell Ausserrhoden and Appenzell Innerrhoden send one Councillor each. The latter six have traditionally been considered "half-cantons", because of their smaller size in area and in population, but in practice operate as full cantons.

The Councillors serve for four years, and are not bound in their vote to instructions from the Cantonal authorities. Under the Swiss Federal Constitution, the mode of election is left to the cantons, the proviso being that it must be a democratic method; however, all cantons now provide for the councillors to be chosen by popular election. In all Cantons except for Zug and Appenzell Innerrhoden, the Councillors are elected concurrently with the members of the National Council. In the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden the representatives are elected by the physically convened popular assembly (Landsgemeinde). With the exception of the Canton of Jura, where a proportional representation election system is used, the representatives are elected by majority vote.

There are currently (2008) 10 women in the Council of States (22%).

List of members

Seats by party

Population per seat

The Council of States represents the principle of federalism of the Swiss constitutional state: seats are distributed by state (canton), not by population. Consequently, the number of people represented by a single seat in the Council of State varies by a factor of 40, from 15,000 for Appenzell Innerrhoden to 600,000 for Zurich.

AbbrCanton Seats Population ¹per seat² 

ZHZurich 21,228,600614,3001.0
BEBern 2947,100473,5501.3
VDVaud 2626,200313,1002.0
AGAargau 2550,900275,4502.2
BLBasel-Landschaft 1261,400261,4002.4
SGSt. Gallen 2452,600226,3002.7
GEGeneva 2414,300207,1503.0
BSBasel-Stadt 1186,700186,7003.3
LULucerne 2350,600175,3003.5
TITicino 2311,900155,9503.9
VSValais 2278,200139,1004.4
SOSolothurn 2245,500122,7505.0
FRFribourg 2239,100119,5505.1
TGThurgau 2228,200114,1005.4
GRGraubünden 2185,70092,8506.6
NENeuchâtel 2166,50083,2507.4
SZSchwyz 2131,40065,7009.4
ARAppenzell Ausserrhoden 153,20053,20011.5
ZGZug 2100,90050,45012.2
NWNidwalden 138,60038,60015.9
SHSchaffhausen 273,40036,70016.7
JUJura 269,10034,55017.8
OWObwalden 132,70032,70018.8
GLGlarus 238,30019,15032.1
URUri 235,00017,50035.1
AIAppenzell Innerrhoden 115,00015,00041.0
Overall 467,261,200157,8523.9
Notes: ¹ Population data from Cantons of Switzerland (2001). ² Relative representation compared to Zürich.

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