The Seven-Headed President Switzerland Celebrates Europe's Strangest System of Government

The Swiss are in the middle of election fever as the parliament prepares to choose two new members of its government, the Federal Council, which acts as a collective head of state. But even Swiss experts have stopped trying to explain the country's bizarre political system to outsiders.
The official photo of the Swiss Federal Council shows the seven federal councilors and the chancellor, Corina Casanova. From left: Didier Burkhalter, Corina Casanova, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, Ueli Maurer, Micheline Calmy-Rey, Hans-Rudolf Merz, Doris Leuthard, Bundesrat Moritz Leuenberger.

The official photo of the Swiss Federal Council shows the seven federal councilors and the chancellor, Corina Casanova. From left: Didier Burkhalter, Corina Casanova, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, Ueli Maurer, Micheline Calmy-Rey, Hans-Rudolf Merz, Doris Leuthard, Bundesrat Moritz Leuenberger.

Foto: Alex Spichale/ Keystone
Translated from the German by Paul Cohen