Switzerland is a federal republic, the country has a Constitution adopted on May 29, 1874. Switzerland includes 26 cantons (Aargau, Appenzell Ausser-Roden, Appenzell Inner-Roden, Basel-Landscape, Basel-Stadt, Bern, Fribourg, Geneva, Glarus, Graubunden, Jura, Lucerne, Neuchatel, Nidwalden, Obwalden, St. Gallen, Schaffhausen, Schwyz, Solothurn, Torgau, Ticino, Uri, Wallis, Vaud, Zug, Zurich). The largest cities (thousand people): Bern, Zurich (337.9), Geneva (175), Basel (166), Lausanne (114.9). Check computerminus for political system of Switzerland.
The principles of state administration of the country differ in some features. The head of state and government (i.e. the Federal Council) is the president. Since January 2003, this position has been held by P. Couchepin, the vice-president is R. Metzler. They are elected by the Federal Assembly for 1 year from the members of the Federal Council (it includes 7 people), which is also formed by it, but for 4 years. The Federal Council includes representatives of the four parties that received the largest number of votes in the elections to the Federal Assembly (two representatives each from the first three parties and one from the last fourth).
The bicameral Federal Assembly consists of the Council of State (i.e. the Council of Cantons, 46 members elected for 4 years) and the National Council (200 deputies elected by direct popular vote on the basis of proportional representation for 4 years). The last elections to the State Council were held in 1999 (in different months in each canton), to the National Council on October 24, 1999.
The largest number of votes in the last elections to the National Council was given to: the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) – 22.6%, the Social Democratic Party (SPS) – 22.5%, the Radical Free Democratic Party (FDP) – 19.9 % and the Christian Democratic People’s Party (CVP) – 15.8%. They account for 80.8% of all votes (the “big four” won all the seats in the State Council).
The highest judicial power is exercised by the Federal Supreme Court. Its members are elected by the Federal Assembly (for 6 years).
Features of the functioning of the executive and legislative powers are manifested primarily in the annual automatic rotation of heads of state (and government). Switzerland is the only European country in which the principle of a “correspondence system” of socio-political movements operates. This allows representatives of the “Big Four” political parties that are members of the Federal Council to head the state for a very specific period and pursue their own policies. But in order to succeed in the implementation of their concept, socio-political parties, temporarily at the head of the state, must rely on the principles of constant compromise. They need to reach agreement with other members of the Federal Council, who will inevitably also temporarily head the state.
The “correspondence system”, which involves various parties in the process of forming national strategic goals, thus prevents unexpected changes in concepts in the social development of the country, it is able to absorb conflicts and tensions that must inevitably arise in a country with many national mentalities and different religions. This process usually develops in a complex and slow manner, but it is considered one of the main factors that ensure sustainable, political stability and identity in the country.
The second feature can be considered the functioning of the principle of a kind of Swiss political culture in the form of direct democracy. This system allows every citizen to be directly involved in solving state problems at the cantonal and federal levels. To hold a popular referendum, it is necessary to collect at least 50,000 signatures to pass a decision on a draft law and 100,000 to amend existing legal norms. When holding popular referendums, it is necessary to ensure the majority not only of the population, but also of the cantons.
Leading associations of business circles also have a serious influence on the formation of the basic principles of the functioning of Swiss society. The Swiss Union of Industrialists and Traders (it came into being in 1870) stands out in particular, as it constantly orients the main directions of the country’s strategic economic growth. The focus is on increasing the share of capital-intensive and science-intensive products in national production. No less significant influence on the formation of society is exerted by the Association of Swiss Bankers. It is making great efforts to maintain the prestigious level of this sector in the global economy. It is especially important to show the failure of the international myth about the so-called. the gnomes of Zurich, who in the depths of their dungeons provide a “safe harbor” for not entirely conscientious investors.
The main strategic goal of domestic policy is to ensure the sustainability of socio-economic development, the stability of the political system and the identity of the country’s population. The importance of this problem is determined by the fact that within the framework of the Swiss Confederation there is no single common language and national culture. Three leading Eurocontinental ethnic groups are united in Switzerland, each of which is joined by neighboring large countries with a kindred mentality. Therefore, the main focus in solving internal problems is on respect for the equal rights of minorities.
The most important mechanism for the consolidation of Swiss society is considered to be the active use of the postulates of the “correspondence system” at all levels. The shock-absorbing ability of this principle of public administration was quite clearly demonstrated during the integration into the governing coalition (within the Federal Council) of the radical nationalist party of the famous Swiss multimillionaire K. Blocher. Using populist nationalist slogans (about 19% of the total population of the country are foreigners – the highest European figure), this party received almost 1/5 of all votes in the last elections. However, the access to the highest level of state administration by representatives of national radicals did not lead to the destruction of the unshakable stability of the country’s socio-political system.
In foreign policy, the most radical shifts occurred in March 2002 – Switzerland became a member of the UN. For many years, the Alpine Republic, based on the principles of “permanent neutrality”, avoided membership not only in NATO, the EU, but even in the UN. True, she was a member of some specialized agencies of this organization, and often adhered to the economic sanctions imposed by it. Made in 1986, the country’s attempt to join the UN was blocked in a popular referendum, 75% of Swiss citizens opposed. But in March 2002, more than half voted positively, and Switzerland became the 190th member of the UN.
The main reason for such a decisive change in the principles of foreign policy is related to economic factors. For leading industrial and financial corporations, the volume of products (and services) produced abroad already significantly exceeds national indicators. Under these conditions, the persistence of “traditional Alpine isolation” began to threaten Swiss competitiveness in world markets.
The situation with the country’s accession to the EU, which accounts for the vast majority of foreign economic turnover, is becoming more complicated. But, according to Swiss analysts, this is more a political issue than an economic one. Supposed to be ok. 90% of all economic problems arising from non-entry into the EU have already been resolved as a result of a bilateral agreement (Switzerland-EU) within the framework of the European Economic Area. This is primarily about establishing the principle of freedom of movement of goods, capital, labor and patents (licenses).
Serious objections to the country’s possible accession to the EU are associated with the need to adapt the existing Swiss socio-political system to European norms. The gradual elimination of the main rather specific postulates of the country’s state administration (automatic annual rotation of heads of state, “direct democracy” through holding popular referendums, etc.) can damage the identity of the Swiss population, traditional socio-political stability. The latest polls (2002) showed that only 1/3 of the population is in favor of joining the EU, 1/3 is categorically against it, and, finally, the rest believe that they approve of this process with their “head”, while their “heart” strongly opposes accession. to this organization.
The country’s armed forces are considered the largest in Europe. The Swiss regular army has approx. 360 thousand people (and under conditions of mobilization it can be increased up to 500 thousand people within 48 hours). It consists of the Ground Forces, the Air Force, the Border Guard and fortification units (personnel of mountain bunkers). The annual conscription into the army is 42.6 thousand people. (2002). Military spending is $2.5 billion, which is 1% of GDP.
The reserve structure of the army is formed on the basis of the “militia system”, in accordance with which part of the male population (aged 20-24 years) is regularly called up as recruits for military service (18 weeks). The second group consists of reservists who can be called up under conditions of full mobilization. All those liable for military service receive uniforms, weapons, necessary ammunition and even a bicycle for storage at home in order to independently arrive at their destination in full combat readiness.
Such a large-scale militarization of the social life of the Alpine Republic is based on well-defined historical traditions. The centuries-old struggle for independence, the long period of participation of Swiss “mercenary soldiers” as the most professionally trained personnel of many European armies, etc. – all this contributed to the introduction into the public consciousness of the importance of military service for ensuring the security and well-being of the confederation. In addition, the army is a kind of symbol of the “Swiss identity” of the inhabitants of this country.
And yet in the con. 2002 began a large-scale military reform, according to which by the end. 2004 the regular army should be reduced three times (up to 120 thousand people). Accordingly, there will be a decrease in the number of recruits (up to 20 thousand people) and reservists (up to 80 thousand people). But it is assumed that military spending will not be reduced. They will be directed in large volumes to the development and implementation of the latest military equipment.