At stake in this referendum:
- The referendum will ask voters to decide the legalization of abortions through the twelfth week of pregnancy.
Description of government structure:
- Chief of State: President Kaspar VILLIGER
- Head of Government: President Kaspar VILLIGER
- Assembly: Switzerland has a bicameral Federal Assembly (Bundesversammlung, Assemblée Fédérale) consisting of the Council of States (Standerat, Conseil des Etats, Consiglio degli Stati) with 46 seats and the National Council (Nationalrat/Conseil National/Consiglio Nazionale) with 200 seats.
* The Federal Presidency rotates among the 7 members of the Federal Council, which is the formal chief of state. Presently the Federal Council consists of Kaspar VILLIGER, Ruth DREIFUSS, Moritz LEUENBERGER, Pascal COUCHEPIN, Ruth METZLER-ARNOLD, Joseph DEISS, and Samuel SCHMID.
Description of electoral system:
- The President is appointed by parliament to serve a 1-year term.
- In the Council of States (Standerat/Conseil des Etats/ Consiglio degli Stati), 6 members are elected by plurality vote in single-member constituencies to serve 4-year terms and 40 members are elected by plurality vote in multi-member constituencies to serve 4-year terms*. In the National Council (Nationalrat/Conseil National/Consiglio Nazionale), 195 members are elected by open list proportional representation in multi-member constituencies to serve 4-year terms and 5 members are elected by a plurality system to serve 4-year terms.**
* Single-member districts correspond to the former half-cantons whereas two-seat districts correspond to former full cantons. The electoral system is a two round system, with exception of Jura and Neuchâtel, where it is proportional representation.
** Seats are apportioned to each canton in proportion to its population. Voters have the option of panachage. The electoral system is proportional representation.
Provisions in this referendum:
- Change of the Swiss Penal Code (Termination of Preganacy): To officially legalize abortions performed in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
- People's Initiative 'On Mother and Child -- For the protection of the unborn child and for the help of mothers in distress': To further restrict the legality of abortion procedures.
Population and registered voters:
- Population: 7,284,753 (2002)
- Registered Voters: 4,731,017 (2002)
· Female Population: 3,724,499 (2002)
· Is Switzerland a signatory to CEDAW: Yes (23 January 1987)
· Has Switzerland ratified CEDAW: Yes (27 March 1997)
· Gender Quota: No
· Female candidates in this election: N/A
· Number of Female Parliamentarians: 45 (National Council); 9 (Council of States) following the 1999 elections
· Human Development Index Position: 3 (2014)
· Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) Categorization: N/A
· Is Switzerland a signatory to CRPD: No
· Has Switzerland ratified CRPD: Yes, accession (15 April 2014)
· Population with a disability: 1,092,712 (est.)