The state and the law

Switzerland is a democracy – the oldest and most participatory in the world. Its inhabitants enjoy the advantages of a modern democratic system, notably when it comes to participation in political decisions, legal protection, rights and equality.

Democracy is the political regime under which the supreme power resides with the people. Switzerland shares with other democracies a set of values whose basis is drawn from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This notably includes:

  • the rule of law
  • the separation of powers between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary
  • equality of all citizens before the law
  • protection of property and personal rights.

Modern states work to promote these values and see them implemented in society. Some of the areas where this activity has been particularly prominent over the last few decades in the canton of Vaud as elsewhere include:

  • sexual equality
  • anti-racism
  • the right of every inhabitant to meet their basic material needs (minimum vital), defined in a variable way depending on the standard of living in each country.

The canton of Vaud is also one of the states that have accorded civil rights at local level to foreigners resident within their borders.

For more information, please refer to "Politics and government".

Law and the legal system

The legal system in the canton of Vaud accords the protection of law to all of its inhabitants, in both civil and criminal proceedings. The cantonal tribunals and the police are available to people involved in disputes or that are the victims of crime.

In certain circumstances, victims of acts of violence are entitled to aid from an officially recognised victim support counselling centre (centre LAVI).