Skip to main content


Landsgemeinde Glarus (
Switzerland is a direct democracy. This means the Swiss people can vote directly on any new law rather than having elected representatives vote for them. In no other place is this direct democracy more visible than in the public voting of the two Swiss cantons Appenzell Innerrhoden and Glarus. Instead of voting per letter or in polling booths like the rest of Switzerland, rely these cantons on the Landsgemeinde to settle matters. Today, the Landsgemeinde took place in Glarus

What is the Landsgemeinde? Literally it means "community of a canton" which is also a pretty graphic description of what is happening. All inhabitants of a canton who are entitled to vote (Swiss citizens over 18 years old) gather on a certain day to vote on laws or elect the cantonal government. This gathering takes place in the open, usually on a big square in the cantons capital. In order to enter the voters area a citizen has to show a voter identity card ("Stimmrechtsausweis") or bring along the family rapier ("Seitengewehr").

The vote itself is almost too simple to believe. The government representatives, usually the ministers of the canton, read the voting proposal and people vote on it by raising one hand (or the voter identity card). If the result of the vote is clear (much more raised hands for "yes" than for "no") it is accepted. However, if it seems an even vote the head of the cantonal government has to decide. He may consult with the other members of the government before he decides but his decision is final and definitely valid. According to an unwritten rule this decision should always favor the non-government view.

Obviously, this system of public voting only works in smaller cantons. Both, Glarus and Appenzell Innerrhoden have less than 40'000 inhabitants (of which not everyone is eligible to vote). In a canton like Zurich there wouldn't even be a place to fit all voters. Unless you'd put them on Lake Zurich... :)

Anyway, the Landsgemeinde is something very Swiss and actually quite an interesting thing to watch. I haven't had the chance to personally participate (not living in Glarus or Appenzell) but Swiss television covers the Landsgemeinde every year. You should take a look at it:



  1. Can't wait till I can vote! Only 2 more years and can apply for Swiss citizenship...


Post a Comment

You have something to add or would like to ask a question? I would love to hear from you!

Popular posts from this blog

How to Spot a Swiss Person

As an expat one usually spots fellow expats right away. It's not only the language or the looks of people but rather the little peculiarities of life that seem so normal at home that give us away while abroad. Obviously, it's a cliche that all people from the same place (country, city, continent) behave in the same way and I am far from making that claim. However, growing up in a certain surrounding does rub off on people's behavior and some similarities can certainly be observed.

This is also true for Swiss people. According to the Swiss stereotype, we are a clean, punctual and strictly organized people. However, there are many exceptions like my Swiss friend who is always late or my brother whose room was a total mess while growing up. Yet, although they do not fit the description of a typical Swiss person, they still have some traits that give them away as Swiss. The same is probably true for myself - if I like it or not.
10 Signs you are dealing with a Swiss Person So,…

Schätzli, Schnüggel and Müüsli - Terms of Endearment in Swiss German

If you've ever been invited to the home of a Swiss couple, you are probably familiar with the most popular Swiss German term of endearment "Schätzli" (little treasure) or one of it's many varieties like e.g. "Schatz" or "Schätzeli". Obviously, this is not the only pet name used by Swiss couples (or parents for that matter). Like many other languages, Swiss German offers a wide variety of words and phrases that you can use to address your loved one.

What most of these pet names have in common is the ending "-li" which basically turns the thing or person a word refers to into something small. For example "Haus" means house and "Hüüsli" means small house. This ending "-li" can also be added to first names as a means of endearment, e.g. Benjaminli, Estherli or Fabienneli.

I tried to come up with a collection of Swiss German pet names but realized I only know a handful. However, after combing through the interne…

10 Fun Things to do on a Rainy Day in Switzerland

The weather has been so so these last few days and will remain rainy and rather cold. No swimming in one of the many lakes of Switzerland, going on a nice bike trip or playing soccer outside unless you are willing to endure some heavy rain. :)

However, there are plenty of fun things to do in Switzerland even on rainy days. Here's the list of my current favorite rainy day activities:
Alpamare: Biggest water park of Switzerland with dozens of water slides and pools. It's open all year round since most of the baths and slides are indoors. It is perfect for a rainy day since there are usually less people than on a sunny day.Zoo Zurich: The famous zoo in Zurich features bears, elephants, monkeys, tigers and the mazoala hall (a tropical glass house). Many animals can be visited in their houses.Swiss National Museum: The Swiss National Museum in Zurich gives an overview over the cultural history of Switzerland. Swiss Museum of Transport: The Museum of Transport in Lucerne tells the h…