Swiss federal election 2023: When will we know the result?
The big day is finally here! After months of campaigning and debating, polling stations across Swiss cities and cantons have finally opened their doors to allow citizens to vote for who will make up the next parliament. Here’s all you need to know about the timeline of the Swiss federal elections in 2023 and when we can expect to see a result.
Update: The preliminary results of the election have now been released. You can read about the outcome of the election and its impact on expats in our guide to the Swiss federal election results.
Swiss federal elections in 2023
From 9am on October 22, people across the country will be given a chance to vote and select their preferred candidates' and parties’ list to decide the composition of the Swiss Federal Assembly, consisting of the National Council (lower house) and the Council of States (upper house).
This year, the population-based Swiss National Council will welcome an additional representative from Zurich - up to 36 seats, the largest caucus in the chamber - while Basel-Stadt will lose a representative, down to just four seats. The Council of States remains unchanged, with one seat each for cantons Obwalden, Nidwalden, Basel-Stadt, Basel-Land, Appenzell Innerrhoden and Appenzell Ausserrhoden, and two seats for every other canton.
How is the Swiss parliament elected?
Each seat in the National Council is elected via proportional representation within each canton - the citizens of Zurich choose who fills the 36 seats allocated to them, Basel chooses four, and so on. Seats in the Council of States are allocated either using a simple majority or proportional representation, with some cantons staging runoff elections should the winning candidate not secure enough votes.
How are people able to vote?
When it comes to where and how to vote, all those eligible and registered should have already been sent their voting documents by post, which should include information regarding where and when to vote in person on the day. The Swiss government also offers a “VoteInfo” app to help provide people with the latest information on how to participate in the elections.
Sadly, holders of residence permits are not allowed to vote in federal elections, so most expats will be unable to fully participate in the democratic process.
Key times on Swiss election day 2023
With the most pressing issues already raised, speeches held and promises made, here’s what the timeline looks like on Swiss election day, October 22, 2023:
- 9am: The first polling places will open across the country (hours vary by municipality).
- 11 - 12am: Polls close across Switzerland. Votes submitted in person and by post will start to be counted.
- 12pm: The Federal Statistical Office (FSO) will begin publishing preliminary results from all cantons. Live updates will be provided on the official website.
- Between 12pm and 12am: National broadcaster SRF will release an official projection of the final result, also known as an exit poll. Times vary, but for reference in 2015, this was announced at 7pm.
- 12pm - 12am: Preliminary results are released and the first round of any Council of State elections are calculated.
Thousands of Swiss citizens are set to volunteer to count the votes, with results tabulated by municipality and canton. All but the closest results should become apparent by the end of October 22.
What happens after Swiss polling day?
The federal government will publish the official results of the vote and the number of seats won by each party by the end of October, while any appeals against the results will be heard in early November at the latest. If required, runoff elections for Council of State members will be held on the second, third and fourth Sundays in November.
Members of the newly elected National Council will swear an oath and assume the role of councillor on December 4. Then, finally, the Federal Council elections will be held at a joint meeting of the National Council and Council of States on December 13. This will decide the composition of the seven-member executive branch and elect the new President of Switzerland.
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