Cantonal parliament: role and composition
As at federal level, the cantons also maintain a separation of powers between the legislature, executive and judiciary. The cantonal parliament is the cantonal legislature.
Composition of the cantonal parliament
The number of members of parliament varies from canton to canton. It is usually proportional to the population of the canton. The parliament of Appenzell Innerrhoden currently has 50 members while the Zurich parliament has 180 members.
Like the Federal Assembly, all cantonal parliaments are semi-professional parliaments, allowing members of parliament to hold down another job while fulfilling their parliamentary duties.
Like the cantonal governments, the cantonal parliaments have a variety of titles in Switzerland’s national languages, including Grand Conseil, Landrat, Kantonsrat, Grosser Rat or Gussegl grond. Regardless of what they are called, all cantonal parliaments exercise the same legislative powers.
The main tasks
The cantonal parliament’s main task is to adopt, reject or amend cantonal legislation, and to decide on initiatives and petitions submitted by citizens, communes or members of parliament.
It also has the task of adopting the cantonal budget, which it is presented by the cantonal government, and authorising the levying of duties and taxes.
Last but not least, the cantonal parliament supervises the activity of the cantonal government.
Regular meetings open to the public
Council members holds regular, scheduled meetings, usually once a month. These meetings and their minutes are generally public.
In addition, the members of parliament set up ad hoc committees (transport committee, finance committee, etc.) to analyse issues and prepare items of business for plenary debate in parliament or for submission to the cantonal government.
President of the cantonal parliament
Parliament annually elects one of its members to be president. The president’s duties include chairing the meetings of parliament.