Swiss Government Essay

This essay has a total of 583 words and 3 pages.

Swiss Government

Switzerland is a decentralized federal republic composed of 20 cantons and six half
cantons. These in turn are divided into communes. Legislative power is the responsibility
of the dual-chamber Federal Assembly. One chamber consists of 200 representatives chosen
by the electorate for four-year terms. The other, which has 46 representatives, is
selected directly by the cantons. Each sends two representatives, but the mode of their
election and the terms of their service depend on the laws of the individual cantons.
Executive power is in the hands of the Federal Council, which is chosen by the assembly.
The council consists of seven members elected for four-year terms, and they act as a
cabinet. One of the members of the council is chosen as president but serves for only one
year. The president's powers are therefore extremely limited. Women did not attain
suffrage until 1971. While men in one of the half cantons continued to reject proposals to
allow women the right to vote on local matters, the nation's high court in 1990 ordered
them to grant women the right.

In the 16th century Switzerland was the focus of the Protestant Reformation, and the
cantons split along religious lines. One of the greatest political and religious leaders
of the Reformation was John Calvin. His success lay in his extraordinary ability to
combine extreme political convictions with administrative talent. Calvin made much of
Switzerland a tower of Protestant strength. Both civil and secular law were dominated by
Calvin's preachings. His religious base was Geneva, but his ideas spread rapidly to
Scotland, the Netherlands, and even to southern France. Another famous religious leader
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