Plenary Sittings

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.

The Structure of a Federal Council Sitting

Plenary sittings of the Federal Council start with Question Time or a Debate on Matters of Topical Interest. During Question Time Members of the Federal Council address short oral questions to members of the Federal Government. In the Debate on Matters of Topical Interest also issues relating to the European Union can be raised.

Urgent Questions and deliberations on written answers to questions provide an opportunity to discuss matters of day-to-day politics. Provincial Governors and members of the Federal Government may at any time make statements on topical issues.

The Plenary of the Federal Council can address resolutions regarding political concerns to the Federal Government and set deadlines for the preliminary deliberation of a given subject by the competent expert committee. The Plenary also takes official note of reports of the Federal Government.

Objections of the Federal Council to National Council Decisions

The Plenary of the Federal Council, i.e. its 60 Members as a body, can raise objections, by a majority of votes, to bills adopted by the National Council or refuse to agree to them.

Special Sittings

Upon request on the part of one quarter of the Members of the Federal Council or the Federal Government the President of the Federal Council has to convene the Council within five days, the agreed calendar of sittings notwithstanding.

Chairing the Federal Council

The sittings of the Federal Council are open to the public. They are chaired in rotation by the President and the Vice-Presidents of the Federal Council, who enforce compliance with the speaking time allotted to the Members and, when necessary, admonish speakers by a call to order or requiring him/her to speak to the point.