Switzerland, a federation of 26 cantons
Scale up Bern Council Hall
Modern Switzerland is a union formed by the 26 states, or cantons, which federated in 1848. The Swiss call this national union the Confederation.
Switzerland is a federal State and «the Confederation», in a narrower sense, also refers to the federal government. But federalism in Switzerland is founded on the principle that the cantons, as states within the State, have considerable legal and political sovereignty.
A modern cantonal constitution
The Canton of Bern, like the other cantons, has its own executive and legislative branches of government and its own judiciary.
The Link öffnet in einem neuen Fenster.•Bundesverfassung (Swiss constitution) provides clearly that all areas and powers that are not expressly delegated to the federal government are the responsibility of the cantons.
Bern is a democracy with one of the most modern cantonal constitutions in Switzerland. It was also the first canton in Switzerland to enshrine the freedom of information in its basic law. The authorities and public service are required to provide information actively and openly to the public.
Link öffnet in einem neuen Fenster.•Constitution of the Canton of Bern in English (PDF, 209 KB, 33 pages)
The public service performs a wide variety of tasks for the benefit of the canton’s citizens. Many important aspects of the administration’s duties are determined by voters in referendums.
The central administration includes Link öffnet in einem neuen Fenster.•Bern Canton’s Chancellery and the following seven departments (German/French):