Switzerland 1999 Constitution (reviewed 2014)

Table of Contents

Chapter 3. Federal Council and Federal Administration

Section 1. Organisation and Procedure

Article 174. Federal Council

The Federal Council is the supreme governing and executive authority of the Confederation.

Article 175. Composition and election

  1. The Federal Council has seven members.
  2. The members of the Federal Council are elected by the Federal Assembly following each general election to the National Council.
  3. They are elected for a term of office of four years. Any Swiss citizen eligible for election to the National Council may be elected to the Federal Council.
  4. In electing the Federal Council, care must be taken to ensure that the various geographical and language regions of the country are appropriately represented.

Article 176. Presidency

  1. The President of the Confederation chairs the Federal Council.
  2. The President and the Vice-President of the Federal Council are elected by the Federal Assembly from the members of the Federal Council for a term of office of one year.
  3. Re-election for the following year is not permitted. The President may not be elected Vice-President for the following year.

Article 177. Principle of collegiality and allocation to departments

  1. The Federal Council reaches its decisions as a collegial body.
  2. For the purposes of preparation and implementation, the business of the Federal Council is allocated to its individual members according to department.
  3. Business may be delegated to and directly dealt with by departments or their subordinate administrative units; in such cases, the right to legal recourse is guaranteed.

Article 178. Federal Administration

  1. The Federal Council is in charge of the Federal Administration. It ensures that it is organised appropriately and that it fulfils its duties effectively.
  2. The Federal Administration is organised into Departments; each Department is headed by a member of the Federal Council.
  3. Administrative tasks may by law be delegated to public or private organisations, entities or persons that do not form part of the Federal Administration.

Article 179. Federal Chancellery

The Federal Chancellery is the general administrative office of the Federal Council. It is headed by a Federal Chancellor.

Section 2. Powers

Article 180. Government policy

  1. The Federal Council decides on the objectives of federal government policy and the means by which they should be achieved. It plans and coordinates state activities.
  2. It informs the general public fully and in good time about its activities, unless overriding public or private interests prevent this.

Article 181. Right to initiate legislation

The Federal Council submits drafts of Federal Assembly legislation to the Federal Assembly.

Article 182. Lawmaking and implementation of legislation

  1. The Federal Council enacts legislative provisions in the form of ordinances, provided it has the authority to do so under the Constitution or the law.
  2. It ensures the implementation of legislation, the resolutions of the Federal Assembly and the judgments of federal judicial authorities.

Article 183. Finances

  1. The Federal Council draws up the financial plan and the draft budget and prepare the federal accounts.
  2. It ensures orderly financial management.

Article 184. Foreign relations

  1. The Federal Council is responsible for foreign relations, subject to the right of participation of the Federal Assembly; it represents Switzerland abroad.
  2. It signs and ratifies international treaties. It submits them to the Federal Assembly for approval.
  3. Where safeguarding the interests of the country so requires, the Federal Council may issue ordinances and rulings. Ordinances must be of limited duration.

Article 185. External and internal security

  1. The Federal Council takes measures to safeguard external security, independence and neutrality of Switzerland.
  2. It takes measures to safeguard internal security.
  3. It may in direct application of this Article issue ordinances and rulings in order to counter existing or imminent threats of serious disruption to public order or internal or external security. Such ordinances must be limited in duration.
  4. In cases of emergency, it may mobilise the armed forces. Where it mobilises more than 4,000 members of the armed forces for active service or where the deployment of such troops is expected to last for more than three weeks, the Federal Assembly must be convened without delay.

Article 186. Relations between the Confederation and the Cantons

  1. The Federal Council is responsible for maintaining relations between the Confederation and the Cantons and collaborates with the latter.
  2. It may approve cantonal legislation when required to do so by federal law.
  3. It may object to treaties between Cantons or between Cantons and foreign countries.
  4. It ensures compliance with federal law, as well as the cantonal constitutions and cantonal treaties and takes the measures required to fulfil this duty.

Article 187. Further duties and powers

  1. The Federal Council also has the following duties and powers:
    1. supervising the Federal Administration and the other bodies entrusted with federal duties.
    2. reporting regularly to the Federal Assembly on the conduct of its business as well as on the situation in Switzerland.
    3. making appointments that do not fall within the remit of other authorities.
    4. dealing with appeals, where the law so provides.
  2. Other duties and powers may be delegated by law to the Federal Council.
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