Political parties are indispensable if democracies are to work. They help to form political opinion, nominate candidates for public office and launch initiatives and referendums. Parties differ from one another in terms of their views of the role of the state, society and the economy.
Whereas left-wing parties tend to advocate a highly developed social state, right-of-centre parties advocate a liberal economic policy and personal responsibility. Certain political issues are neither distinctly left- nor rightwing, i.e. environmental protection, the question of how open Switzerland should be towards the EU and international organisations, and issues regarding liberal values (e.g. same-sex partnerships). Depending on the issue, centre parties will cooperate with either left- or rightwing parties. Switzerland’s political landscape comprises many different parties, of which none holds a majority at federal level.
There are five parties that each make up ten per cent or more of seats in the Federal Assembly (SVP: 24%, SP: 20%, FDP: 17%, CVP: 15%, Greens: 13%). These parties are all represented in the Federal Council, with the exception of the Green Party, which in the 2019 parliamentary elections gained over 10% of the votes for the first time.