Session (Switzerland) - Session (Schweiz)

Session in the Council of States
Session in the National Council

Session is the name of the period in which the meetings of the two Swiss parliamentary chambers, the National Council and the Council of States, take place. The two chambers of parliament usually meet four times a year for three weeks each. The sessions take place in March, June, September and November / December and are also known as the spring, summer, autumn and winter sessions .

The two chambers of parliament (also called councils) usually meet in the Bundeshaus in Bern . The Federal Assembly can, however , decide by way of a simple federal resolution to meet at a different location as an exception. [1] These sessions are also known as “extra muros” sessions . This happened three times when the renovation of the Federal Palace took place in the other linguistic regions of Switzerland: in the 1993 autumn session in Geneva , the 2001 spring session in Lugano and the 2006 autumn session in Flims . [2]

According to the Parliament Act, council members are generally obliged to attend council meetings during their sessions [3] . The session participation guarantee means that a criminal case against a council member for crimes or offenses that are not directly related to his official position or activity during the session can be initiated only with his written consent or authorization of the competent Commission of its Council; The right to precautionary arrest due to the risk of flight or in the case of being caught in the act of committing a crime is reserved. [4] The Council Presidents ( National Council President andPresident of the Council of States ) can also exclude a council member from attending the rest of a meeting as a disciplinary measure. [5]

If the business load cannot be reduced within the four ordinary sessions, both councils can independently decide on special sessions . Since 1992, when the possibility of holding a special session of a single council, 25 special sessions have been held. Both councils met eight times, the National Council alone 15 times and the Council of States alone twice (as of November 2020). [6]

A quarter of the members of a council or the Federal Council can request that the councils or the United Federal Assembly convene an extraordinary session . This right gives a council minority or the Federal Council the opportunity to have a say in the parliamentary agenda. The actual convocation and thus the determination of the time of the session is done by the council offices. In the special case of an extraordinary session to deal with an urgent financial decision that exceeds CHF 500 million, the session must take place no later than the third calendar week after the submission of the request ( Art. 28 and Art. 34 FHG).

Only the sessions of November 2001 and May 2020 were separately held extraordinary sessions. All other extraordinary sessions were held as part of an ordinary session or a special session. With this practice, the council offices have weakened the "extraordinaryness" aimed at by the initiators.

The purpose of an extraordinary session is not just to hold a debate, but to pass a resolution by the Federal Assembly. [7]The large number of extraordinary sessions in the period from 2001 to 2013 is explained by the fact that during this period political minorities in the National Council were able to use the instrument of desire to convene an extraordinary session to force debates on the proposals they submitted to the National Council. However, a decision by the Federal Assembly was not possible because the relevant items for discussion were not pending in the Council of States. With the amendment to the Parliamentary Act of June 21, 2013, it was made more precise that the request for the convocation must designate a subject pending discussion in both councils and that the session in both councils must take place in the same calendar week. [8th]

Extraordinary sessions at the request of a quarter of the members of a council since 1848 [6]
year Duration theme
1891 July Introduction of the banknote monopoly
1985 6 - 7 February NR
8 February SR
Measures against forest dieback
1986 October 9 - October 11 NR
October 9 SR
Energy policy after Chernobyl
1998 January 22 - January 23 NR
January 21 SR
Tax loopholes and mergers / economic policy
(merger of UBS and SBV )
2001 16. November NR
17. November SR
Swissair financing
2002 26. September SR
3. October NO
BVG minimum interest rate
2007 October 1 SR / NR Tax issues
2008 December 8th NR
December 9th SR
Financial crisis
2009 March 9 NR
March 11 SR
Economic crisis
3. Juni NR
11. Juni SR
Tightening of criminal law
9. September SR
15. September NO
Business cycle and unemployment
December 3rd NR
December 8th SR
Milk price and agricultural policy
2010 March 3rd NR
March 18th SR
March 2nd SR
March 10th NO
2011 12. April NR
9. Juni SR
Corporate tax reform II
8. Juni NR
28. September SR
Nuclear and alternative energies
June 6th SR
June 9th NO
European Policy and Bilaterals III
14. September SR
19 - 20 September NR
Economic and social situation of the population
12. September SR
28. September NR
Immigration and asylum. Migration policy, what next?
December 6th SR
December 21st NR
Strong franc: a threat to the workplace
2012 March 14th NR
March 15th SR
Restoring the credibility of the Swiss National Bank
2013 March 6th SR

17. April NO

June 19 NO

20. June SR

Tax-compliant financial center and automatic information exchange
2015 9. September NO

10. September SR

For an immediate moratorium on asylum
December 7th SR

December 10th NR

Wave of refugees in Europe and border controls
December 16 NR

December 17th SR

Report on the public service
2020 4. - 6. Mai NR / SR Measures for the COVID-19 pandemic [9]
8. September NO

9. September SR

Measures in connection with the corona virus


  • Barbara Brun del Re: Art. 2 Meeting of Councils . In: Martin Graf, Cornelia Theler, Moritz von Wyss (Eds.): Parliamentary Law and Parliamentary Practice of the Swiss Federal Assembly. Commentary on the Parliament Act (ParlG) of December 13, 2002 . Basel 2014, ISBN 978-3-7190-2975-3 , pp. 26–34. (Online)


Individual evidence

  1. Swiss Confederation: Art. 32 ParlG: Seat of the Federal Assembly. Retrieved December 7, 2014 .
  2. ^ Swiss Confederation: Sessions "extra muros". (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on August 12, 2009 ; Retrieved December 7, 2014 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@2Vorlage:Webachiv/IABot/
  3. Swiss Confederation: Art. 10 ParlG: Obligation to attend meetings. Retrieved December 7, 2014 .
  4. Swiss Confederation: Art. 20 ParlG: Guaranteed session participation. Retrieved December 7, 2014 .
  5. Swiss Confederation: Art. 13 ParlG: Disciplinary measures. Retrieved December 7, 2014 .
  6. a b Swiss Confederation: Fact sheet: Sessionen. (PDF) Retrieved May 21, 2020 .
  7. State Political Commission of the Council of States: Report on the parliamentary initiative "Improvements to the organization and procedures of Parliament". June 13, 2013, p. 6806 , accessed September 24, 2020 .
  8. 10,440 Parliamentary Initiative. Improvements in the organization and procedures of Parliament. In: Curiavista Business Database. Retrieved September 24, 2020 .
  9. Parliamentary Services : Extraordinary Session, May 4-6, 2020 at the BernExpo. Retrieved May 8, 2020 .