|The constitution at present dates back to 1874. There are 26 cantons (3 of which are subdivided) and more than 3000 communes.
The Federal Assembly is bicameral, consisting of a Council of State (upper house) with 46 members and a 200-strong National Council (lower house) whose members are elected every four years.
Executive power is vested in the 7-member Federal Council, elected by the Assembly and headed by an annually elected president. Whatever the legislators may decide, however, the Swiss people are aware that they can take the issue to referendum by raising 100,000 signatures. Popular referenda is a usual feature of Swiss political life.