Swissvotes Universität Basel année politique suisse


Direct democracy makes the political system of Switzerland unique and is of paramount importance to Swiss politics and society. It is therefore hardly surprising that questions surrounding popular votes are a regular concern of the public, the media and researchers in Switzerland as well as abroad.

Swissvotes provides a multitude of information which helps to find answers to these questions: being the most encompassing database on the Swiss popular votes, it provides freely accessible, understandable, scientifically checked, and politically neutral information on all popular votes held on Switzerland’s federal level since 1848. On the one hand, our platform assembles information which is available but scattered on various other sites. On the other hand, we also produce information which is exclusively available on Swissvotes (for example our brief text descriptions for each vote or the data on divergent voting recommendations by cantonal party branches).

Around 2005, Wolf Linder, Christian Bolliger, and Yvan Rielle recognised the demand for such a data platform, and they launched the Swissvotes project at the Institute of Political Science at the University of Bern. They could rely on financial support by the Swiss National Foundation and on partnerships with the Swiss Federal Chancellery and with the Swiss Federal Statistical Office. Moreover, they could build on two projects which they had previously conducted at the Institute of Political Science: In the first of these projects, named „Konfliktlinien und Konkordanz in der Schweiz“, Wolf Linder, Regula Zürcher, and Christian Bolliger had already compiled information on the topics and the campaigns of the popular votes since 1848. They published the results of that project in the book "Gespaltene Schweiz – geeinte Schweiz". The second project preceding Swissvotes had been conducted by Yvan Rielle. He had examined and classified all popular votes according to their contents. Swissvotes refined and significantly expanded these data bases. When the Swissvotes online database was launched in 2009, it immediately received significant attention by the public and by researchers from various fields. In 2010, the Swissvotes team published the „Handbuch der eidgenössischen Volksabstimmungen 1848–2007“ which contains brief, systematic descriptions of each vote between 1848 and 2007 and background information on the system of Swiss direct democracy. You can order the handbook (in German) from the Haupt publishing house. The text descriptions for each vote are also available on our platform (see votes).

Today, Swissvotes is run by Année Politique Suisse at the Institute of Political Science of the University of Bern. Hans-Peter Schaub and Marc Bühlmann are now in charge of Swissvotes. They have conducted a general overhaul of the website and have been continuing to expand the database. For example, Swissvotes now also provides data on the voting recommendations by cantonal party branches and analyses of the advertisement campaigns. Text descriptions for all votes since 2008 have been added, following the same pattern as the descriptions in the handbook and thus continuing this unique series of qualitative data. Moreover, the website is now available in three languages. With the financial support by the Schweizerische Akademie der Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaften, the Lotteriefonds des Kantons Bern and the Ernst Göhner Stiftung, we were able to get the new website up and running by summer 2019.

In the future, Swissvotes shall continue to serve as a sound, attractive information platform which enables societal, political and scientific actors alike to delve into questions surrounding the multifaceted topic of direct democracy. We will continue to update the relevant data on the most recent popular votes before and after every voting day. Moreover, we are planning various extensions of the platform.