The Federal Council

The Federal Council has 61 members. Its major responsibility is the representation of the Federal Provinces’ interests in the legislative process at federal level. This is why it is also referred to as the Chamber of Provinces. Its members are delegated by the Provincial Diets of the nine Federal Provinces.

The Responsibilities of the Federal Council

Jointly with the National Council, the Federal Council exercises the legislative power at federal level. It can raise objections to legislative decisions of the National Council. Such objections must be reasoned and mostly have only a suspensive effect. This means that the Federal Council cannot prevent legislation but only delay it. There are, however, some matters on which the Federal Council has an absolute veto, or in other words, a law cannot be passed without the consent of the Federal Council. More

The Members of the Federal Council

The number of members of the Federal Council changes as population shifts occur in the federal provinces. Currently there are 61 members, who are delegated by their respective Provincial Diets and represent the interests of their provinces in the federal legislative process. Following Provincial Diet elections, seats in the Federal Council are reallocated in accordance with election returns. Seating arrangements in the Federal Council meeting hall are made on the basis of parliamentary groups irrespective of the province a member may represent. More

The Presidents and the President’s Conference

The Federal Provinces take turns in the chair of the Federal Council every six months. The office of chairperson goes to the Federal Council member holding rank one in the list established by his/her Federal Province. The president is assisted by two Vice-Presidents. Jointly with the chairpersons of the parliamentary groups they form the President’s Conference, which coordinates deliberations in the Federal Council and takes care of many other matters. More

Items of Business in the Federal Council

The Rules of Procedure of the Federal Council enumerate the various kinds of items of business transacted in the Federal Council. These include, amongst other things, National Council bills, private Members’ motions by Federal Council members, questions addressed to members of the Federal Government and answers thereto as well as statements by members of the Federal Government and Provincial Governors. Except for petitions all items of business are transacted in sittings open to the public. More

Plenary Sittings of the Federal Council

The plenaries of the Federal Council usually take place two weeks after a National Council plenary. The plenary of the Federal Council can raise objections to National Council bills or refuse its consent by a majority vote. Debates on Matters of Topical Interest and Urgent Questions give members an opportunity to raise current political issues of interest. The sittings are open to the public. More

Federal Council Committees

Committees of the Federal Council are entrusted with preliminary deliberations on items of business. The composition of committees in terms of parliamentary groups reflects conditions in the plenary. As a result, the outcome of committee deliberations forms a valuable basis for the work of the plenary. More