The Swiss Federal Council: shared executive power with Nenad Stojanović

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The Swiss Federal Council is a 7-member council that constitutes the executive branch of government. Instead of concentrating power in one person only, as in a presidential system, power is shared among 7 people, the members of the council who are also ministers of the government departments. The 7 Federal Councillors are elected by the joint-session of the two chambers of parliament for a fixed term of four years. Decisions are taken by majority vote in the council, nonetheless the council tries to find solutions by collegial deliberation. The Swiss Federal Council exhibits a stronger separation of powers than a parliamentary system, while avoiding executive personalism.

With Nenad Stojanović I discuss the historic origins and the functions of the Swiss Federal Council. He explains why a one-person presidency would unlikely be accepted by the Swiss people, because of its diverse regions, languages, and cultures. He also describes how the institution of direct democracy put pressure on the governing party to include opposition parties in the Federal Council, and how proportional representation elections for the National council, the lower chamber, built the fundament for a balanced representation of the four largest parties in the executive government.

This form of executive council government has successfully managed Switzerland ever since its first modern constitution in 1848, and was a central institution in its development to become one of the most stable and prosperous democracies in the world.

Nenad Stojanović is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Geneva, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. He holds a Doctorate degree in political science from the University of Zurich. He has published extensively on democratic institutions, especially with regard to multi-ethnic and multilingual societies. He has quite recently published another book titled: Multilingual Democracy. Switzerland and Beyond.

Find the show notes with links to all material discussed here: https://rulesofthegame.blog/the-swiss-federal-council-shared-executive-power/

Find more information about Nenad's research here: https://nenadstojanovic.ch/

Follow Nenad on Twitter: https://twitter.com/StojanovicNenad

Now please enjoy this wide ranging conversation with Nenad Stojanović!

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