Landsgemeinde Appenzell

Customs Eastern Switzerland

The Landsgemeinde of Appenzell, which takes place on Landsgemeinde Sunday, is a remarkable example of the fact that state power lies with the people.

The Landsgemeinde is an ancient tradition and now only exists in the cantons of Glarus and Appenzell Innerrhoden. It was abolished in the canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden in 1997. On this special Sunday, large numbers of voters come together to make important decisions.

A Glimpse into Swiss Democracy: The Time-Honored Landsgemeinde Tradition

The Landsgemeinde Appenzell is a unique democratic event in which citizens hold elections and vote on all important matters at cantonal level. It is an impressive testimony to the fact that the power of the state really does lie with the people. In an impressive act of direct democracy, people gather outdoors to cast their vote and have a say in the future of their canton.

Landsgemeinde pastries Chrempfli

Landsgemeinde pastries Chrempfli ©

On the last Sunday in April, the voting population of Innerrhoden gathers in Appenzell for the impressive Landsgemeinde. This traditional event begins in the morning with a solemn Landsgemeinde service, to which the members of the Standeskommission (cantonal government) and the cantonal court as well as guests of honor are also invited.

Landsgemeinde Appenzell Innerrhoden

At twelve noon sharp, the impressive procession of the Standeskommission, the cantonal court and the guests of honor begins from the town hall to the Landsgemeindeplatz. The Harmonie Appenzell music society leads the procession, playing a slow march. The Rhodsfähnriche and Junkers of the seven Innerrhoden Rhoden contribute to the colorful atmosphere with their uniforms and flags. The members of the authorities appear in their black official coats, with the men also carrying a sidearm (sabre or sword) and a hat.

As soon as the large bell from the nearby church tower gives the signal, the ruling Landammann opens the Landsgemeinde with a meaningful speech. The election of the two Landammänner is followed by the ceremonial climax, during which the Landammann and the people take the Landsgemeinde oath – a symbolic act of great significance for the Innerrhoden community.


Talerschwingen – Customs and tradition ©

Before the votes on important matters, such as constitutional, legislative and credit proposals, the members of the Ethics Committee and the Cantonal Court are confirmed or newly elected. Citizens entitled to vote have the opportunity to speak and put forward their arguments for or against the proposals.

At the end of the Landsgemeinde Appenzell, the departure takes place in the same ceremonial manner as the procession, with the return of the Harmonie Appenzell music society playing an accompanying role.

The Landsgemeinde Appenzell is an impressive example of a living democracy and the strong connection between the people of Innerrhoden and their history and tradition. It is a symbol of the direct participation of the people and shows how a country regulates its political affairs collectively and in an impressive way. This traditional event gives the canton of Innerrhoden a very special charm and attracts visitors from near and far every year who want to experience the impressive atmosphere of the Landsgemeinde.

Video Appenzeller Landsgemeinde | Switzerland

This is the only place in the whole world where a sword serves as voter ID…

Appenzeller Landsgemeinde | Switzerland

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