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Swiss voting Two new French speakers in parliament from 2019

The home of the Swiss parliament, in Bern.

(Keystone)

Following the next national elections, regional representation in the Swiss parliament will shift: French-speaking regions will gain two seats, northern cantons will lose out.

The two southern cantons of Geneva and Vaud will gain a seat each, it was announced this week, at the expense of the cantons of Bern and Lucerne, in a move that impacts the House of Representatives while leaving the Senate as is.

And if some German-speakers may be grumbling, there is nothing surprising in the shake-up: every four years, new allocations are made according to the number of permanent residents in each canton.

Since 1963, when the system was fixed, the 200 seats of the House of Representatives are divided between the country’s 26 cantons on the basis of demographic weighting (though each canton has the right to at least one).

This leads not only to regular shifts, but also to some large variations in the numbers per canton (see graphic).

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graphique sur le nombre de députés par canton

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Continued growth

The changes were announced as annual statistics reported on the state of the Swiss population, which grew by 1.1% in 2016 to reach a total of 8.4 million permanent residents. The cantons of Aargau, Zug, Vaud, and Zurich grew fastest.

Several factors lie behind the growth spurts, as reported by the Federal Statistics Office. Along with a net growth due to immigration (71,000 people), a natural increase due to positive birth-rates affected almost all regions.

The number of foreign residents grew more quickly than the that of Swiss residents (2.6% as opposed to 0.6%). At some 2.1 million people, the foreign population now represents a quarter of the total.


adapted from French by Domhnall O'Sullivan

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