December 6, 2023

Selinski’s speech – Heads of State spoke in the Swiss Parliament – News


Diouf rarely appears before the Swiss Parliament. Only eight heads of state have addressed federal assemblies.

Varaha Venkata Giri (India) 1970

For more than 100 years, there have been no speeches by foreign speakers during parliamentary sessions in Switzerland. This privilege was first granted to Indian President Vara Venkata Giri in 1970. It is not known why the ancient taboos were broken at that time.

Jerry performed part of his state visit. In his ten-minute speech, he spoke admiringly of Swiss democracy and highlighted Switzerland’s contribution to world peace through its neutrality and India through non-alignment.

Vaclav Havel (Czech and Slovak Federal Republic) 1990

As the second foreign head of state, the President of the Federal Republic of Czechoslovakia, Vaclav Havel, made a speech in the Swiss Parliament in 1990. After the fall of the Wall and the reunification of Eastern Europe a year earlier, the performance generated a lot of media interest. The parliamentary visit took place outside the session and therefore occupies a special place.

The right to speak in Parliament

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The right to speak in Parliament is primarily the prerogative of members of the National Assembly, the Council of States, the Federal Council, the Federal Chancellor and sometimes representatives of the Federal Supreme Court and the supervisory authority over the Attorney General’s Office. Who has the right to speak can also influence the behavior of MPs and their voting behaviour.

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The right to speak is formally granted by the presidencies of the council. They can also entitle outside guests to their job. Applications are processed in advance at the council offices.

Havel was received in the chamber of the House of States, where about 50 members of both houses were waiting for him.

Eduardo Frey (Chile) 1995


Federal President Caspar Villiger inspects the military parade with Chilean President Eduardo Frey.

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In 1995, 25 years after the President of India, Eduardo Frey, officially received the President of Chile at a meeting in the National Council Chamber. Frey had Swiss ancestors. Five years before the visit, Chile had returned to democracy after years of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. The visit was accompanied by criticism from the left of the council for not conforming to the Pinochet era.

1998: Oscar Luigi Scalfaro (Italy) / Roman Herzog (Germany) / Thomas Klestil (Austria) / Prince Hans-Adam II (Liechtenstein)

At the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the modern federal state in 1998, four heads of state appeared before the Swiss Parliament with other guests.

Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, German President Roman Herzog, Austrian President Thomas Klestil, and Prince Hans-Adam II, Head of State of Liechtenstein, represented the neighboring countries. Senate President René Maunoury attended on behalf of France.

A man raises his hands in thanks, clapping in the background to Members of Parliament.


Hungarian President Arpad Gonz after his speech in the National Assembly Chamber.

KEYSTONE / Alessandro Della Valle

Arpad Joncz (Hungary) 1999

The last time a head of state spoke at the Federal Councils was in 1999 with Hungarian President Arpad Goncz. The occasion was the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Council of Europe.