Political rights at municipal level

In brief

People of foreign nationality, fulfilling certain conditions, can participate in elections and vote in their municipality, be elected or sit on the Municipal Council or the Municipality. They can also launch a municipal initiative or referendum. They obtain these political rights, when all the following conditions are met:

  • Be 18 years old.
  • Be domiciled in a Vaud municipality, with a B or C permit.
  • Have continuously resided in the canton of Vaud for the past 3 years (holding a B, C, Ci, N or F permit).
  • Have continuously resided in Switzerland for the past 10 years (with a B, B student, C, Ci, N, F or L permit).

As soon as a foreign person is registered in a Vaud municipality and meets the conditions opposite, they automatically receive the official material in the event of a vote or municipal election.

Voting rights and useful resources

In Switzerland, as soon as you meet the conditions, you are automatically registered in the register of your municipality. Voting materials are sent to you. Once this is completed, you can send it back by post or drop it off in a letter box provided for this purpose in your municipality. You can also go to the polling station of the municipality on the day of the vote, with the material received. Each voter is free to vote. This choice is personal and no one can vote for you.


Proposal of a project emanating from citizens for the municipality, and which will be submitted to the voters.


Citizens’ request that a decision taken by the Municipal Council be submitted to the voters.


Set of operations that constitute a vote or an election.

Politics in Switzerland

The three political levels in Switzerland

Switzerland is a federal state, which means that state power is divided between the Confederation, the cantons and the municipalities. There are therefore 3 political levels and each of them has decision-making powers. The competences of the Confederation and the cantons are enshrined in a formal document called the Federal Constitution. The competences of the municipalities are dictated by the Confederation and the cantons. The Swiss Government, called the Federal Council, is made up of 7 members elected by Parliament. The Swiss Parliament, known as the Federal Assembly, is made up of 246 members elected by the people and has two chambers: the National Council (200 members) and the Council of States (46 members).

And in the canton of Vaud?

In the canton of Vaud, the government is represented by the Council of State. This is the executive power which is responsible in particular for enforcing the laws. The Council of State is elected by the people of Vaud every 5 years. It is made up of seven State Councillors, each of whom also heads a department. The president is appointed by his or her peers for the duration of the legislature (5 years).

The legislative power of the canton of Vaud is represented by the Grand Council. It is responsible in particular for the adoption of laws and has 150 members. The deputies of the Grand Council are, like the Council of State, elected by the people every 5 years.

How does your municipality work?

The Municipal Council is responsible for overseeing the management of the municipality. It adopts the municipal budget and regulations as well as local taxes. This is the municipal parliament. It is made up of 25 to 100 people. Every 5 years, you can elect the candidates of your choice, or run for office. In municipalities with less than 1,000 inhabitants, the Municipal Council is called the General Council and you can join it, on simple request. The Municipality’s mission is to implement the decisions of the Municipal Council, to manage day-to-day business and to direct the administration. It is the municipal government. It is made up of three, five, seven or nine people and is chaired by the syndic. Every 5 years, you can elect the candidates of your choice, or run for office.

More information