Most cantons (ZH, BE, LU, SZ, ZG, FR, SO, BS, BL, SH, SG, GR, AG, TG, TI, VD, VS, NE, GE, JU) have more than one seat in the National Council. The elections are organised according to the proportional system of representation.
The procedures are as follows:
Allocation of seats among the lists
Each canton is entitled to a certain number of seats in the National Council. The more residents a canton has, the more National Council members it has.
Seats in the National Council are first divided among the lists in proportion to the total number of votes each list has received: lists with more votes receive more seats.
Note that parties or candidate groups can create list combinations and sub-combinations, which are first considered as a single list. This means that their votes are added together in order to improve their chance of obtaining a seat.
Allocation of seats to the various candidates on a list
Election winners can only be decided once it is clear how many seats each list is entitled to. The allocated number of seats are filled by the candidates who received the most votes in that particular list.
For example: if a list has been allocated three seats, the three candidates on that list who have received the most votes will be elected.
If one of the elected candidates gives up or does not want to assume their mandate, the first substitute candidate – the candidate with the highest number of votes who was not elected – will take their place.
Elections are held according to the majority system in cantons that have one seat in the National Council. Allocation is therefore a simple process: the person who receives the highest number of votes wins the election
It can happen that multiple candidates receive the same number of votes. In such cases, a draw is used to determine the election winner. The 2011 National Council election in Ticino was decided by drawing lots.
For more detailed information on the vote counting procedure and the rules for calculating the distribution of mandates, please consult the Federal Chancellery's handbook for candidate groups (available in German, French and Italian; Chapter 8, p. 27ff.).