How and when do new members of parliament assume office? Where can they go for information and assistance? How can they ‘learn the job’ of a member of parliament?
When do new members of parliament assume office?
New members of parliament generally assume office during the parliamentary session following their election. Their mandate is for four years and can be extended if they successfully stand for re-election.
If a member of the National Council steps down during these four years (the legislature period):
- if the canton has more than one seat in the National Council, the new member of parliament takes up office at the start of the following session of parliament.
- if the canton only has one seat in the National Council, a new election is called in the canton to elect a successor.
Council of States
If a member of the Council of States steps down, a new election is held in the canton to elect a successor.
Oath or solemn promise by members of parliament
To officially assume office, members of parliament elected to one of the two chambers of the Swiss parliament must first swear an oath or make a solemn promise. Each member of parliament is free to choose either option. The oath or promise is made on the first day of the parliamentary session following the election – or when a new member replaces an outgoing member of the National Council during the legislature period.
Members of the Council of States re-elected to the same seat are not required to swear an oath or make a promise a second time. However, members of the National Council are required to repeat the oath or promise at the start of each term.
- The promise reads: “I solemnly promise to uphold the Constitution and the law and to fulfil the duties of my office to the best of my abilities.”
- The oath reads: “I swear by Almighty God to uphold the Constitution and the law and to fulfil the duties of my office to the best of my abilities.”
Anyone who refuses to swear the oath or make the solemn promise declines to take up office.
Assistance to members of parliament
Throughout their term, members of parliament can receive assistance from the Parliamentary Services, primarily for administrative tasks.
The two parliamentary chambers carry out the same tasks, for example making federal laws.
Laws in Switzerland and International laws