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Federal Authorities

Part I Federal Assembly

Article 71 [Federal Assembly]
Subject to the rights of the people and the Cantons (Articles 89 and 121; at the present time: Articles 89, 89 A, 120, 121, 121 A and 123) the supreme power of the Confederation shall be exercised by the Federal Assembly which consists of two sections or councils, to wit:

A. the National Council;

B. the Council of States.

Subsection A National Council

Article 72 [National Council Membership]
(1) The National Council shall be composed of 200 representatives of the Swiss people.

(2) The seats shall be distributed among the Cantons and Half-Cantons in proportion to their resident population, each Canton and Half-Canton being entitled to one seat at least.

(3) A federal law shall lay down detailed provisions.

Article 73 [National Council Elections]
(1) The elections to the National Council shall be direct. They shall take place according to a system of proportional representation, each Canton or Half-Canton forming one electoral district.

(2) Federal legislation shall lay down detailed provisions for the implementation of this principle.

Article 74 [National Council Electorate]
(1) Swiss men and women shall have the same rights and the same duties in matters of federal elections and other federal polls.

(2) Each Swiss man and each Swiss woman who has completed his or her 18th year and who has not been deprived of his or her political rights by the legislation of the Confederation or of the Canton where he or she is resident has the right to participate in such elections and other polls.

(3) The Confederation can decree uniform legal provisions on the right to participate in elections and other polls on federal matters.

(4) The right at cantonal level shall remain the affair of cantonal and communal voting and elections.

Article 75 [National Council Eligibility]
Every lay Swiss citizen entitled to vote is eligible for membership of the National Council.

Article 76 [National Council Election Period]
The National Council shall be elected every four years and each time the whole Council is subject to election.

Article 77 [National Council Incompatibilities]
Members of the Council of States and of the Federal Council and officials appointed by the latter may not at the same time be members of the National Council.

Article 78 [National Council Presidency]
(1) The National Council shall elect from among its members a president and a vice-president for each ordinary and extraordinary session

(2) The member who has been president during an ordinary session is not eligible to be president or vice-president for the following ordinary session. The same member may not be vice-president during two successive ordinary sessions.

(3) When the votes are equal the president shall have the casting vote; at elections he shall have the same voting rights as every other member.

Article 79 [National Council Allowances]
Members of the National Council shall be paid an allowance by the federal treasury.

Subsection B Council of States

Article 80 [Council of States Membership]
The Council of States shall consist of 46 representatives of the Cantons. Each Canton shall elect two representatives; in the halved Cantons, each Half-Canton shall elect one representative.

Article 81 [Council of States Incompatibilities]
Members of the National Council and of the Federal Council may not at the same time be members of the Council of States.

Article 82 [Council of States Presidency]
(1) The Council of States shall elect from among its members a president and a vice-president for each ordinary and extraordinary session.

(2) Neither the president nor the vice-president may be elected from among the representatives of the Canton from which the president of the immediately preceding ordinary session has chosen.

(3) Representatives of the same Canton may not hold office as vice-presidents for two successive ordinary sessions.

(4) When the votes are equally divided, the president shall decide; in elections, he shall vote like any other member.

Article 83 [Council of States Allowances]
Members of the Council of States shall be paid an allowance by the Cantons.

Subsection C Powers of the Federal Assembly

Article 84 [Federal Assembly Authority]
The National Council and the Council of States shall deal with all matters which, according to this Constitution, fall within the competence of the Confederation and have not been attributed to another federal authority.

Article 85 [Federal Assembly Competences]
The matters within the competence of the two Councils are in particular the following:

(1) Laws on the organization and the mode of election of the federal authorities.

(2) Laws and decrees on matters which the Constitution places within the competence of the Confederation.

(3) Salaries and allowances of the members of the federal authorities and the Federal Chancery; setting up of permanent federal offices and determination of the corresponding salaries.

(4) Election of the Federal Council, the Federal Court, the Chancellor and the General of the federal army. Federal legislation may entrust to the Federal Assembly the right to make or to confirm other appointments.

(5) Alliances and treaties with foreign states as well as approval of treaties of Cantons among themselves or with foreign states. However, such treaties of the Cantons shall only be submitted to the Federal Assembly if the Federal Council or another Canton raises an objection to them.

(6) Measures for the external security as well as for the preservation of the independence and neutrality of Switzerland, declaration of war and conclusion of peace.

(7) Guarantee of the constitutions and the territory of the Cantons; interventions pursuant to this guarantee; measures for internal security and the preservation of peace and order; amnesty and pardon.

(8) Measures aimed at the implementation of the Federal Constitution, the guaranteeing of the cantonal constitutions and the carrying out of federal obligations.

(9) The right to dispose over the federal army.

(10) The drawing up of the annual budget and approval of the State's accounts as well as decrees on the floating of loans.

(11) General supervision of federal administration and justice.

(12) Complaints against decisions of the Federal Council concerning administrative disputes (Article 113).

(13) Conflicts of competence between federal authorities.

(14) Revision of the Federal Constitution.

Article 86 [Federal Assembly Sessions]
(1) Both Councils shall meet once a year for an ordinary session on a day to be determined by their rules of procedure.

(2) They shall be convened for an extraordinary session by decision of the Federal Council or on request from one quarter of the members of the National Council or from five Cantons.

Article 87 [Federal Assembly Competency]
In order that a Council may deliberate validly, the absolute majority of its members must be present.

Article 88 [Federal Assembly Majority Rule]
In the National Council and the Council of States decisions are taken by the absolute majority of the members casting a vote.

Article 89 [Federal Assembly Legislation]
(1) Federal laws and federal decrees must be approved by both Councils.

(2) Federal laws and generally binding federal decrees must be submitted to the people for approval or rejection if 50,000 Swiss citizens entitled to vote or eight Cantons so demand.

(3) Paragraph (2) shall be applicable also to international treaties which:
  1. are of unspecified duration and cannot be denounced;
  2. provide for adherence to an international organization;
  3. entail a multilateral unification of the law.
(4) By a decision of both Houses Paragraph (2) shall be applicable to other treaties.

(5) Adherence to collective security organizations or to supranational bodies shall be submitted to the vote of the people and the Cantons.

Article 89 A [Federal Assembly Decrees]
(1) Generally binding federal decrees whose entry into force ought not to be delayed may be put into effect immediately by a majority of all members of each of the two Councils; the period of validity is to be limited.

(2) If 50,000 Swiss citizens entitled to vote or eight Cantons request a popular vote, the decrees put immediately into effect shall lose their validity one year after their adoption by the Federal Assembly if they have not been approved by the people during that period; in that case, they may not be renewed.

(3) Decrees put immediately into effect which have no constitutional basis must be approved by the people and the Cantons within one year after their adoption by the Federal Assembly; failing this, they shall lose their validity after the lapse or this year and may not be renewed.

Article 90 [Federal Assembly Legislation Formalities]
Federal legislation shall lay down the necessary rules concerning the formalities and time-limits for popular votes.

Article 91 [Federal Assembly Voting Procedure]
Members of both Councils shall vote without instructions.

Article 92 [Federal Assembly Joint Meetings]
Each Council shall deliberate separately. However, for elections (Article 85 (4)), for the exercise of the right of pardon and when deciding conflicts of competence (Article 85 (13)), both Councils shall assemble for a joint meeting under the chairmanship of the President of the National Council and decisions shall be taken by the majority of the members of both Councils casting a vote.

Article 93 [Federal Assembly Initiative]
(1) Each of the two Councils and each of their members have the right of initiative.

(2) The Cantons may exercise the same right by correspondence.

Article 94 [Federal Assembly Publicity]
As a rule, the meetings of both Councils shall be public.

Part II Federal Council

Article 95 [Federal Council]
The supreme executive and governing<ICL_525> authority of the Confederation is a Federal Council composed of seven members.

Article 96 [Federal Council Elections]
(1) The members of the Federal Council shall be elected by the Federal Assembly for four years from among all the Swiss citizens who are eligible for the National Council. However, not more than one member may be elected from the same Canton.

(2) The Federal Council shall be elected anew after each renewal of the National Council.

(3) Vacancies occurring during the four-year period shall be filled in the following session of the Federal Assembly for the remainder of the term.

Article 97 [Federal Council Incompatibilities]
Members of the Federal Council may not hold another office, be it in the service of the Confederation or in a Canton, nor carry on any other profession or industry.

Article 98 [Federal Council Presidency]
(1) The chairman of the Federal Council shall be the President of the Confederation; he and the Vice-President shall be chosen by the Federal Assembly from among the members of the Council for a term of one year.

(2) The outgoing President is not eligible to be President or Vice-President for the following year. The same member may not hold the office of Vice-President for two successive years.

Article 99 [Federal Council Salaries]
The President of the Confederation and the other members of the Federal Council shall draw a salary from the federal treasury.

Article 100 [Federal Council Competency]
In order that its deliberations may be valid, at least four members of the Federal Council must be present.

Article 101 [Federal Council Privileges]
Members of the Federal Council may participate in the debates of both sections of the Federal Assembly in a consultative capacity and have the right to voice proposals concerning the subject-matter under discussion.

Article 102 [Federal Council Powers]
The powers and obligations of the Federal Council, within the limits of this constitution, are in particular the following:

(1) It shall conduct federal affairs in conformity with the federal laws and decrees.

(2) It shall ensure compliance with the constitution, the laws and the decrees of the Confederation as well as with the provisions of the federal concordats; it shall, on its own initiative or pursuant to a request, take the necessary steps to secure their enforcement to the extent that such requests are not among those which fall within the jurisdiction of the Federal Court according to Article 113.

(3) It shall ensure that the guarantee of the cantonal constitutions is not infringed.

(4) It shall submit to the Federal Assembly drafts of laws and decrees and shall give its opinion on proposals submitted to it by the Councils or the Cantons.

(5) It shall give effect to the federal laws and decrees, the judgments of the Federal Court as well as to the settlements or arbitral awards in connection with disputes between Cantons.

(6) It shall make the appointments which are not entrusted to the Federal Assembly, the Federal Court or another authority.

(7) It shall examine the agreements of the Cantons among themselves and with foreign states and shall approve them if they are admissible (Article 85 (5)).

(8) It shall watch over the external interests of the Confederation, particularly its international relations, and it shall be in charge of external affairs generally.

(9) It shall watch over the external security of Switzerland and over the preservation of its independence and neutrality.

(10) It shall ensure the internal security of the Confederation and the preservation of peace and order.

(11) In urgent cases and if the Federal Assembly is not meeting, the Federal Council is entitled to raise the necessary troops and to dispose of them, with the reservation that it shall summon the Federal Assembly immediately if the troops raised exceed 2000 men or remain under arms for more than three weeks.

(12) It shall be in charge of the military affairs of the Confederation and of all branches of the federal administration.

(13) It shall examine the laws and decrees of the Cantons which require its approval; it shall supervise such branches of cantonal administrations as are placed under its control.

(14) It shall manage the finances of the Confederation, draft the budget and render the accounts of receipts and expenditure.

(15) It shall supervise the official activities of all officials and employees of the federal administration.

(16) At each ordinary session, it shall render an account of its activities to the Federal Assembly and submit a report on the internal as well as on the external state of the Confederation and it shall draw the Federal Assembly's attention to such measures as it deems useful for the promotion of common prosperity. It shall also submit reports on specific questions if the Federal Assembly or one of its sections so request.

Article 103 [Federal Council Principles]
(1) The tasks of the Federal Council shall be distributed among its members according to departments. Decisions are taken by the Federal Council as a body.

(2) Federal legislation may authorize the departments or the services thereof to settle certain matters directly, subject to the right of appeal.

(3) Federal legislation shall determine in which cases the appeal shall be referred to a federal administrative court.

Article 104 [Federal Council Advice]
The Federal Council and its departments are entitled to call in experts on specific matters.

Part III Federal Chancery

Article 105 [Federal Chancery]
(1) A Federal Chancery, headed by the Chancellor of the Confederation, shall act as the secretariat of the Federal Assembly and the Federal Council.

(2) The Chancellor shall be elected by the Federal Assembly for a term of four years, at the same time as the Federal Council.

(3) The Federal Chancery shall be placed under the special supervision of the Federal Council.

(4) Federal law shall determine the details of the organization of the Federal Chancery.

Part IV Federal Court

Article 106 [Federal Court]
(1) A Federal Court shall be established for the administration of justice to the extent that this is a federal concern.

(2) In criminal cases (Article 112) a jury shall be instituted to pronounce a verdict.

Article 107 [Federal Court Membership]
(1) The members of the Federal Court and their substitutes shall be elected by the Federal Assembly which shall ensure that the three official languages of the Confederation are represented.

(2) The organization of the Federal Court and of its divisions, the number of its members and substitutes, the duration of their term of office and their salary shall be determined by law.

Article 108 [Federal Court Eligibility, Incompatibilities]
(1) Any Swiss citizen who is eligible for the National Council may be appointed to the Federal Court.

(2) The members of the Federal Assembly and of the Federal Council and the officials appointed by these authorities may not at the same time be members of the Federal Court.

(3) Members of the Federal Court may not hold another office, be it in the service of the Confederation or in the Cantons, or carry on any other occupation or trade.

Article 109 [Federal Court Organization]
The Federal Court shall organize its chancery and appoint its staff.

Article 110 [Federal Court Civil Jurisdiction]
(1) The Federal Court shall adjudicate civil law disputes:

  1. between the Confederation and the Cantons;
  2. between the Confederation and corporations or private persons if the subject of the dispute is of a degree of importance to be determined by federal legislation and if those corporations or private persons are plaintiffs;
  3. between the Cantons;
  4. between Cantons and corporations or private persons if the subject of the dispute is of a degree of importance to be determined by the federal legislation and if one of the parties so requests.
(2) The Federal Court shall also adjudicate disputes concerning statelessness and disputes between Communes of different Cantons concerning questions of citizenship.

Article 111 [Federal Court Choice of Jurisdiction]
The Federal Court is also bound to adjudicate other cases if both parties agree to refer them to it and if the subject of the dispute is of a degree of importance to be determined by federal legislation.

Article 112 [Federal Court Criminal Jurisdiction, Jury]
The Federal Court shall pass judgment, with the assistance of a jury to give a verdict on the facts, in criminal cases concerning:

1) High treason against the Confederation, revolt and violence against the federal authorities;

2) crimes and offences against the law of nations;

3) political crimes and offences which are the cause or the consequence of disorders which give rise to an armed federal intervention.

4) Charges against officials appointed by a federal authority, if the latter refers them to the Federal Court.

Article 113 [Federal Court Public Law Jurisdiction]
(1) The Federal Court shall further adjudicate:

  1. Conflicts of competence between federal authorities on the one hand and authorities of the Cantons on the other;
  2. disputes between Cantons in the field of public law;
  3. complaints concerning the violation of the constitutional rights of citizens as well as individual complaints concerning the violation of concordats and international treaties.
(2) The administrative disputes which shall be specified by federal legislation are excepted.

(3) In all aforementioned instances, the Federal Court shall apply the laws and generally binding decree adopted by the Federal Assembly, as well as the international treaties approved by this Assembly.

Article 114 [Federal Court Confered Jurisdiction]
Federal legislation may also confer jurisdiction upon the Federal Court on matters other than those specified in Articles 110, 112 and 113; it may, in particular, with regard to the enactment of the federal laws provided for in Article 64, determine the competence necessary to ensure their uniform application.

Part IV  Federal administrative and disciplinary jurisdiction

Article 114 A [Federal Administrative Court]
(1) The Federal Administrative Court shall adjudicate administrative disputes falling within the scope of the Confederation and referred to it by federal legislation.

(2) The Administrative Court shall also adjudicate disciplinary cases of the federal administration referred to it by federal legislation insofar as such cases shall not be referred to a special jurisdiction.

(3) The Court shall apply the federal legislation and the treaties approved by the Federal Assembly.

(4) The Cantons are entitled, subject to the approval of the Federal Assembly, to refer to the Federal Administrative Court for adjudication administrative disputes falling within the scope of their competence.

(5) The organization of federal administrative and disciplinary jurisdiction and its procedure shall be determined by law.

Part V Miscellaneous Provisions

Article 115 [Seat of Federal Authorities]
Everything concerning the seat of the federal authorities shall be a matter of federal legislation.

Article 116 [Languages]
(1) German, French, Italian and Romansh are the national languages of Switzerland.

(2) German, French and Italian are declared to be the official languages of the Confederation.

Article 117 [Official Liability]
The officials of the Confederation are responsible for their official activities. A federal law shall specify the scope of this responsibility
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