Who Makes the Laws in Switzerland

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The government is generally transparent in its operations. In recent years, more and more cantonal governments have adopted transparency laws that make government data more accessible to citizens. Switzerland has a system of government not found in any other nation: direct representation, sometimes called semi-direct democracy (this is debatable, because theoretically the sovereign of Switzerland is in fact the whole of its electorate). [2] Since the Constitution of 1848, plebiscites have been held on the most important laws. One of the peculiarities of the Swiss Constitution is the number of decisions that citizens must take by referendum and initiatives. Ultimate sovereignty rests with the people, who vote several times a year on legislative proposals at the national level and often more frequently in the cantons; In fact, Switzerland has held more than half of the world`s national referendums. For example, a national referendum in 1971 amended the constitution to give women the right to vote in federal elections and to hold federal office, in 1991 the voting age in federal elections was lowered from 20 to 18, and in 2002 voters supported membership in the United Nations (UN). Referendums should be held on constitutional issues and important international treaties; Voters can also call a referendum to challenge a law passed by the Federal Assembly by collecting 50,000 signatures within 100 days of its adoption. For a referendum to be adopted, an absolute majority of national votes and a majority of cantons is required. In addition to referendums, Swiss citizens can call for a national vote on any issue by collecting 100,000 signatures. The first such initiative was undertaken in 1893, when the electorate decided against the will of parliament and accepted the ban on killing animals according to Jewish religious methods. More recently, voters voted on membership of the European Economic Area (rejected), abolition of the Swiss army (rejected), reduction of military spending (rejected), preservation of peatlands (approved), restriction of immigration from the EU (approved) and the introduction of a universal basic income (rejected). The Swiss model has given citizens a direct voice in their own affairs that is unprecedented in any other country, but it has sometimes been criticized for a variety of reasons: voter turnout is often very low, averaging around two-fifths of the electorate; It is often difficult to pass important legislation (e.g., in 1959, the Legislative Assembly passed legislation granting women the right to vote, but voters did not approve the change at the federal level until 12 years later); And it raises the prospect that minority rights can be undermined by a majority of the population, although, in practice, Swiss voters have generally respected minority rights.

The state-of-the-art infrastructure of radio and television, mobile telephony, fixed network and broadband makes Switzerland a very attractive location for businesses. The Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) was given expanded surveillance powers in 2017, allowing it to monitor internet use, eavesdrop on private property, and eavesdrop on suspected terrorists` phone lines. A 2018 law required mobile and internet service providers to retain user data, including information about websites visited by users, for six months. Both laws were the subject of subsequent court challenges. While the lawsuit of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Digital Society against the surveillance practices of the SIF failed before an administrative court, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court allowed its appeal in December 2020 and sent the case back for further examination. The Swiss legislator must respect the rules of international law (art. 5, para. 4 of the Constitution). The Federal Council is empowered to sign and ratify international treaties. Except in extreme cases, they must submit them to the Federal Parliament for approval (Art.

184 para. 2 Cs.). In some regions, public participation in the approval process is also required. With regard to the rank of international law in the domestic legal order, Swiss legal practice has above all recognized the principle of the primacy of international law over federal law. Amendments to the Swiss Federal Constitution, the accession of international organizations or amendments to federal laws which have no constitutional basis but which remain in force for more than one year must be approved by a majority of the people and the cantons by a double majority. Drafting legislation is usually a complex and demanding process that requires detailed research and discussion. As a rule, it is the Federal Council that submits draft laws to Parliament, but a law can also be drafted on the initiative of a parliamentarian, a parliamentary group, a committee (in all three cases, the law is based on a parliamentary motion or initiative) or a canton (cantonal initiative). As a rule, the preliminary draft is submitted to the competent parliamentary committee or the Federal Council for consultation. As part of the consultation, the cantons and various civil society actors (parties, interest groups, NGOs, etc.) evaluate the proposal and comment on it.

After the consultation procedure, the final draft is prepared and submitted to both chambers of Parliament, together with a message, a report explaining in detail the new law. One of Parliament`s main tasks is to create new laws and amend existing regulations through a clearly defined process, involving many other actors and stakeholders at both institutional and civil society levels. Each state has its own laws, which are enacted by the body known as the legislature. In addition to enacting laws, the parliament is also responsible for allocating the state budget, supervising federal agencies, and electing the government, judges, and a general to direct the armed forces in the event of war. The main legislative body is the Federal Parliament. It consists of two chambers, the National Council, composed of 200 deputies elected directly by the people by proportional representation, and the Senate, composed of 46 cantonal deputies (art. 148-150 Cst.). The Federal Parliament is authorized to enact federal laws (art. 163.1 Cst.) by a simple majority of votes (Art.

159.2 Cst.). In certain areas, however, Swiss citizens have the right to participate directly in the legislative process by means of a mandatory referendum (Art. 140 of the Constitution) or an optional referendum (Art. 141 of the Constitution). The Federal Constitution (RS 101) is the Constitution of the Swiss Confederation. It is the most important legislation in the Swiss legal system and takes precedence over all federal, cantonal and communal laws, ordinances and other ordinances; they must not be contrary to the Constitution. Compared to the constitutions of other democratic states, the Swiss Federal Constitution has a peculiarity: it does not provide for constitutional objections to federal legislation, i.e. once the law has been adopted by Parliament, it cannot be declared invalid by the Federal Court on grounds of unconstitutionality. The only exception that the Federal Court makes to this rule concerns conflicts between a federal law and international law. The National Council and the Council of States meet four times a year for three-week sessions.

The two chambers meet once a year to jointly elect the government and the federal courts. Anti-corruption safeguards are generally effective. The trial of Pierre Maudet, a former head of government in Geneva who accepted benefits from the crown prince of Abu Dhabi in 2015, continued in 2020. Maudet retained his post as state councillor in Geneva, but resigned as cantonal minister of economic development in October after auditors noted a high rate of absenteeism in his department. Private disputes fall under the jurisdiction of the civil courts. Labour law actions whose amount in dispute is less than CHF 30,000 are generally subject to a simple and rapid procedure (Art. 343.2 CO). Half of the Swiss cantons have set up special courts for labour disputes.

They are characterized by their rules of procedure and the composition of the judges. Complaints are heard by the cantonal supreme courts, except in the canton of Geneva, where an appeals chamber performs this function.

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