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Elections 2011: The Live Blog
This content was published on October 23, 2011 - 12:10

What’s at stake

In the House of Representatives, which represents the people, all 200 seats are up for grabs.

All 26 cantons are voting, but the system of proportional representation means the more populous cantons are allotted more seats. Zurich, for example, gets 34 seats but six small cantons receive only one seat each. In these six cantons, the winner takes it all.


In the Senate, which represents the cantons, 44 of 46 seats are being elected (Appenzell Inner Rhodes and Nidwalden voted earlier in the year.)

Each of Switzerland’s 20 full cantons elect two senators; the six half-cantons each elect one. The system is majoritarian (first-past-the-post - apart from in Neuchâtel and Jura), but if a candidate doesn’t receive an absolute majority (50 per cent plus one vote), a run-off election is required at a later date. Eight run-offs were needed in 2007. 

Cabinet elections are on December 14. The seven ministers are elected in a joint session by both chambers of parliament.

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About this blog

swissinfo's Thomas Stephens is in Bern, following all the twists and turns of the 2011 parliamentary elections.

If you have any questions or comments, send them to

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