Jonathan Steinberg, Why Switzerland?, 2d edition, 1996.



The Swiss are justly famous for their political institutions and practices: the ancient assembly of free citizens in the Landsgemeinde, the elaborate devices for direct participation by the citizen in the process of decision through referenda and initiatives, the variety and precision of the federal system, the refinements of voting practice and proportional representation, the thriving local and cantonal governments, the evolution of the uniquely Swiss collective executive bodies on local, cantonal and federal level, the overlapping office-holding which enables a person to be simultaneously an elected officer of township, canton and federal parliaments, the instrumental attitude to constitutions which enables easy revision and extension to what elsewhere would be legislative activity, the astonishing stability of Swiss voting habits which have held the four main parties in very nearly perfect equilibrium since 1919 and the late entry of women into politics. The simple enumeration of Switzerland's 'peculiar institutions' adds up to an impressive statement of the uniqueness of Switzerland in the European context. Other societies have some but none has all these channels of direct and semi-direct democracy. The net of politics seems to stretch farther in Switzerland than elsewhere. Activities thought of as technical or administrative in other countries tend to be made elective and political in Switzerland. The ground rules of politics, that unspoken agreement about what is or is not 'done', and the unwritten provisions of Swiss constitutionalism make up a further middle area of values and habits which profoundly affect the workings of the machinery. For example, the Swiss prefer to see the executive at federal, cantonal and local level vested in a committee rather than a president and that committee must be elected. Yet candidates are rarely defeated and thrown from office; it is simply not 'done'.

Describing how all these things work is hard enough, and most of this chapter will do little else. Understanding their significance is much more difficult. How do all these elaborate bits and pieces of machinery fit the economic, social, linguistic, historical and legal aspects of Swiss life? The 'national character' is frequently deployed to help in this difficulty. The Swiss are famous for their Feinmechanik and they themselves often mock their own perfectionism, so it is not too far-fetched to compare the delicate machinery of a watch with the intricacies of Swiss proportional representation. In a general, very general, sense, these comparisons are legitimate. A society in which the work ethos is so highly developed and in which precision is valued will certainly seek the same attributes in politics. But why have these attitudes and values established themselves across linguistic and historical boundaries? Why is a Swiss French as likely to rise at dawn as a Swiss German or a Swiss Italian? 'National character' ends up in circularity: the Swiss behave like Swiss because they are Swiss. Another objection is that looking at the machinery of politics distracts one from the 'real' sources of power, which are economic.

It is certainly true that today tiny cantonal sovereignties are dwarfed by the international corporations whose headquarters they are. Giant firms have turnover figures many times larger than cantonal or even federal budgets, and the three biggest banks have balance sheets whose collective totals almost add up to the amount of the Swiss gross national product. The disparity between corporate and conventional political power is wider in Switzerland than in any other European country, but this does not make the political machinery and its functioning irrelevant. Big Swiss firms depend on the government to manage currency, to pass laws, to administer taxes and to cope with social conflict as do any other groups in society. Giba-Geigy of Basel, one of the biggest chemical and pharmaceutical companies in the world, has an annual turnover of more than Sfr 20 billion (£12 billion) but, as Dr Albert Bodmer, former vice-chairman of the board of Ciba-Geigy, explained to me, the owners of the equity capital remain overwhelmingly Swiss, and the corporate culture is pure 'Basel'. At company headquarters the directors take the tram to work. They rent a Mercedes of the right grandeur, he said, 'when the Germans come'. If they were in Zurich, he assured me, they would all be driven about in Rolls.1

This is not 'politics' in the obvious institutional sense but part of a Swiss way of doing things, which links the corporate board room and the local town council. The Swiss way of doing things, for want of a better description, moulds behaviour in churches and charities, in brass bands and sporting clubs, in the factory and on the farm. It unites the Swiss across language, economic, religious and geographical divisions. Social scientists describe this interaction of political institutions, attitudes and behaviour by the term 'political culture'. Swiss political culture goes well beyond the limits of politics in the strict sense and comes close to being a surrogate for conventional national identity. As Clive Church has shrewdly observed, 'the Swiss have - rather like the Americans — been bound together by their political process'.2

Unwritten rules and assumptions about how things ought to be done express themselves in quite specific political institutions and mechanisms. The Swiss prefer proportional representation to majority systems. Their institutions reflect their desire for what they call 'concordance' and their dislike of conflict. Whereas the British and American systems produce winners, the Swiss prefer to protect the losers. Where other systems strive to generate a powerful majority which can govern, the Swiss opt for complex formulae that produce coalitions. All political machinery in Switzerland has a provisional quality because the 'Sovereign', 'the people', is really sovereign and may exercise its power to change this or that instrument of its will.

The most striking single manifestation of that sovereignty is the intricacy of voting. The Swiss have instruments for measuring popular will of such delicacy that, as Christopher Hughes shows, sometimes even official publications get things wrong. Take one case which Professor Hughes cites: the workings of the d'Hondt system of proportional representation. He quotes an official handout at the Swiss Embassy: 'If ten National Councillors are to be elected in a canton, and of the 60,000 voters, 36,000 vote for List A, 12,000 for List B, 6,000 for List C, 5,000 for List D, and 1,000 for List E, the distribution of seats will be 6:2:1:1:0.' As he points out, this seems common sense. 'The interesting point about it is that it is wrong. List A, surprisingly, would elect 7 members and List D none.' The reason is that under the d'Hondt system the seats are based on a 'Final Quotient', that is, the number which can be divided into each party's total of votes to give the right number of seats. In the particular example, it would work as follows:

Divide the total vote (60,000) by the number of seats plus one (11). The result is called the Provisional Quotient (5,454). In our example, it gives the provisional result of 6:2:1:0:0. But this only adds up to 9, and there are ten seats to be allocated. The second sum seeks the Final Quotient. This is obtained by dividing each party's votes by the provisional number of seats it obtains,plus one. Thus List A (36,000) is divided by 7 (6 plus 1) and gives the result 5,142. This sum is repeated for each seat in turn, and the highest of the results is the Final Quotient; in our example, 5,142 is the highest. It is the number which when divided among each result in turn gives the right number of seats.3
Those of you who have just put aside your pencils will know that it works. The rest will have to take it on faith. In both groups sympathy must be growing with the ordinary Swiss citizen in the face of such intricacy. The system is also opaque. It is impossible to tell without pencil and paper what difference to the final outcome a shift of, say, 1,000 votes from List B to List C might have. Swiss politicians call the curious permutations and combinations which occur Proporzpech and Proporzgluck, 'proportional bad luck' and 'proportional good luck'. Since the citizen has the right to alter the party lists by voting twice for the same candidate (cumulation) or by striking a name on, say, List A and replacing it with a name from another list (panachage), devices which are frequently used both by the party in preparing its official list and by the citizen in editing the list, the game of voting becomes more and more complicated and hard to see through. In the Appendix there are some concrete examples taken from the official guide to these procedures prepared by the Federal Chancellery.

To make matters worse, the complicated electoral system tends to reproduce itself not only on the national but also on the cantonal and local level. A resident of the city of Zurich, for example, has the privilege (or burden) of electing the Nationalrate (deputies to the lower house of the national parliament) from Canton Zurich, two members to represent the canton in the Stdnderat (the upper house of the national parliament), the members of the cantonal parliament, the members of the city parliament of Zurich city, the members of the city executive council, district councillors, district magistrates, district prosecutors, members of the district school board, members of the area school board, arbitration magistrates, a notary public, who is both agent in bankruptcy and keeper of the property records, secondary and primary school teachers and so on. He or she may also have to vote on matters of substance, for in Switzerland the citizen has powers which are known as 'semi-direct democracy' and which take the form of votes on referenda and initiatives at all three levels of government. Although participation by the 'people' in decision-making has an ancient lineage in Switzerland, the elements of direct democracy came relatively late to the federal level — the referendum in 1874 and the initiative in 1891. Today citizens go to the polls on federal issues four times a year to vote on everything from unemployment insurance to the abolition of the army.4

The second layer of Swiss politics is that of the cantons. There are twenty-six cantons, or more accurately twenty full cantons and six 'half-cantons' (the two Appenzells, Basel-Stadt and Basel-Land, Obwalden and Nidwalden). The present division between cantons and federal authority grew out of the crisis of the civil war, as I showed in the previous chapter. It led to a compromise and to a bicameral legislature where the sovereignty of the canton is protected in an upper house, the Standerat or Conseil des Etats, in which each canton has, like the American senate on which it is modelled, two representatives (half-cantons have one) regardless of its population. The constitution of 1874 emphasises the status of cantons, as we have seen, in Article 3:

The cantons are sovereign, in so far as their sovereignty is not limited by the federal constitution, and exercise all those rights, which have not been transferred to federal power.

In this respect the Swiss federal system seems to be very much like the American. The Tenth Amendment of the US Constitution makes the same claims as Article 3 of the Swiss. Here is the American version:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively or to the people.

Cantons make up essential pieces of the Swiss political machine. They vary hugely in size and significance. Canton Zurich has well over a million inhabitants and as a political unit is both richer and more populous than independent states like Estonia or Slovenia. The tiny Appenzell half-cantons with 50,000 and 13,000 would not merit more than district councils in English local government. Yet the Appenzells and Zurich share the same attributes of sovereignty and form part of the same federal state. Their politics reflect certain general features of Swiss political reality and need to be understood. Although every imaginable activity is, as the Swiss ruefully admit, 'different from canton to canton', they are more alike than different and a look at one will serve to illuminate how they all work.

Canton Zug with its 239 square kilometres and population of about 85,000 people is very small. Even among Swiss cantons it ranks near the bottom in area and population; yet it is number one in national income per head. Its sovereign status allows it to enact a very relaxed taxation system which has encouraged companies to register their head offices in its capital town.5 Canton Zug has its own constitution, dated 31 January 1894. Like all Swiss constitutions it was ratified by popular referendum and has been amended more than thirty times over the past century. Swiss constitutions are not sacrosanct pieces of ancient parchment but a form of running record of the decisions of the voters.

The first article proclaims that Canton Zug is 'a democratic free state'.6 Like the twenty-five other Swiss cantons and half-cantons Zug has all the attributes of sovereignty -- constitution, executive, legislative and judiciary, its own system of laws and practices, a flag and coat of arms. It has a proper parliament with eighty members elected by proportional representation for four-year terms.7

The basic unit of Swiss politics, and the key to understanding them, is the Gemeinde or commune. There is no suitable English translation of Gemeinde because there was no parallel development in the English-speaking world. The nearest equivalent is, perhaps, the self-governing New England town, where the citizenry assembled in the town meeting constitute the ultimate legislative authority. In certan parts ot Switzerland, tne community of citizens has always been understood to be 'sovereign' and in Swiss political parlance today, the citizenry as a whole, as we have seen, is still 'the sovereign'. Politicians 'consult the sovereign' or 'fear the reaction of the sovereign' as the case may be. Nowhere is that sovereignty more obvious and direct than in the Gemeinde -- the essential and uniquely Swiss unit of communal activity .

Communes enjoy the same sort of semi-sovereignty within the canton that the canton enjoys within the federation. A typical definition of the powers of the communes is that in Article 2 of Canton Zug's Gemeindegesetz (communal law) of 4 September 1980 which recognises and regulates the status of communes in phrases very like those of the federal constitution's Article 3:

The tasks of the communes can be all affairs which affect the well-being of the commune, which are not exclusively tasks of the Federation or the Canton.

Within that framework the Gemeindegesetz regulates the election, powers and rights of communes. The Einwohnergemeinde or residential commune is the primary political unit of cantonal politics. Article 59 of the Gemeindegesetz lists the powers of the residential communes: conduct of elections and other referenda or initiatives; security of essential needs; law and order; primary schooling; social and welfare services; promotion of culture and health; civil defence; local planning; public transport; police and fire services; civil registration office and maintenance of cemeteries.8 Article 64 states that

the highest organ of the commune are those persons entitled to vote, who exercise their rights at the ballot box or in the general communal assembly.

Communes are substantial enterprises and levy taxes to defray their costs. The citizens often pay more direct taxes to the commune than to the canton. In 1994 official statistics show that of Sfr 98,207,000,000 in national revenues, communes raised Sfr 36,200,000,000 or 36.9% while the federal government raised Sfr 34,417,000,000 or 35.1%.9 The executive of a commune is the elected Gemeinderat (communal council) which according to Article 83 of the Gemeindegesetz in Canton Zug must be composed of five members plus the elected Gemeindeschreiber (communal clerk). This form of executive repeats itself at every level of Swiss politics from tiny communes with a few hundred citizens to the Federal Council in Bern. The number of members in the council may vary but the formula is constant, a number of elected councillors plus an elected chief civil servant. At federal level the chief civil servant is the Federal Chancellor elected by the Federal Assembly; at cantonal level in Zug there is the Landschreiber elected by the cantonal parliament and at local level, as we have seen, the Gemeindeschreiber elected by the people of the commune.

Communes confer citizenship, a power which reflects the rooted, 'bottom-up' quality of Swiss life. As Herr Josef Geisseler, the Gemeindeschreiber of Makers, explained it to me, they do so by vote. The prospective citizens present themselves to the local political parties, show competence in the local dialect and then offer themselves as potential citizens on the ballot. There is normally a picture of the prospective candidate as well, which allows the citizens to see the race of candidates without having explicitly to ask.10 A fee is charged which varies from commune to commune and in a recent case in Zug even varied from candidate to candidate. The children of a local immigrant family discovered that the commune in which they had been born intended to charge them a higher fee for citizenship than a recently settled surgeon. Their complaint, supported by the cantonal executive in Zug, resulted in litigation before the Federal Court in Lausanne." A very large number of immigrant children, born in Switzerland, raised and schooled there, entirely at home in local dialect, are not Swiss citizens. Since, according to the census of 1990, foreigners make up 18.1% of the resident Swiss population,12 a substantial number of Swiss residents suffer the consequences of democracy, Swiss style. In June 1994, a government-sponsored referendum to ease the restrictions on citizenship for foreigners between the ages of 18 and 24 who had spent at least five years in Swiss schools received 52.9% of the popular vote but failed to get that majority of cantons which constitutional amendments require.13 If Swiss democracy has some ugly features, it shows them to its foreigners.

In addition to the residential commune, there is the commune of origin, so-called Bürgerort, the place where one is, as Swiss say, heimatberechtigt (entitled to be at home), written large. This communal citizenship remains within the family and its descendants even if they have been living elsewhere for several generations. Most Swiss will instinctively answer the question 'where are you from?' with the Bürgerort, even though they may never have set foot in the place. The home commune today has less significance than it used to, since only about a third of the population now actually live in the Gemeinde where they have rights. Nevertheless there are rights of last resort to be claimed. The commune of origin, not the commune of domicile, must support its citizens if they fall on hard times. Commune of origin plays a role in the election of members of the Bundesrat, since locality is one of the many elements to be balanced among the members of the seven-member executive. The commune of origin may be one with ancient collective holdings or, in some cases, collective obligations. There may be profits to be collected or dues to be paid. It says something about the rootedness of Swiss identity that this curious yet important, fictional yet very real, form of citizenship should be so instinctively accepted.

In addition to the Einwohnergemeinde and the Bürgergemeinde, there are other corporate bodies in which the Swiss exercise their rights. There is the Kirchgemeinde, which administers the local church according to the particular cantonal legislation and raises a church tax, the Kirchensteuer, which covers the cost of parochial salaries and church maintenance. This structure, which can also be found in other European countries, has certain, peculiarly Swiss, features which will be discussed in the chapter on religion later in this book. Then there are various pre-modern corporate bodies, the so-called Korporationen, whose rights to woods, pasturage or water may go back for centuries, or corporations to build and maintain roads in mountainous areas which present features of a political community mixed with those of a joint-stock company.

One of the oddest features of this corporate, collective politics is how important political parties are in making it function. Let us take a single commune in a single canton and put it under the microscope. There are 107 Gemeinden in Canton Luzern. Several of these have intense party political activity, activity which stretches into areas w"holly outside 'politics' in the Anglo-American understanding of the word. The town of Makers lies in the pretty river valley of the Kleine Emme about 20 kilometres west of the city of Luzern. There are about 4,000 persons on the electoral roll, yet organised party interference is strong. The two main parties, the Liberals and the Christian Democratic People's Party (Christlich-demokratische Volkspartei) known as CVP, are powerfully represented in the commune, and constitute an additional, extra-constitutional arm of government. The party balance has remained unusually stable over the years since the second world war. Until the elections of 1991, when the CVP gained a seat and the presidency of the Gemeinderat, elections, no matter how hotly contested, always produced three Liberals and two CVP members. The Gemeindeschreiber, Herr Josef Geisseler, has been in office for over four decades, and, although a Liberal, was re-elected in 1991 by the CVP majority. The unwritten rules of Swiss political life ensure that servants of the commune, canton or federal government, who are formally party political candidates, in fact get re-elected automatically as civil servants and are expected to be beyond partisanship.

Although the Liberals dominate Makers, the CVP is the largest party in the canton with, in recent years, between 70 and 85 seats in the Grossrat, the cantonal parliament of 180 members.14 Invisible partitions separate party members in a community like Makers. Everybody knows who belongs to which party, and party membership frequently determines who gets which jobs. In nearby Willisau, divided for historical reasons into Willisau-Stadt, controlled by the Liberals, and Willisau-Land, controlled by the CVP, there are separate Liberal and CVP pubs, clubs and hotels. An architect from Willisau-Land -- a CVP member -- told me that in seventeen years in practice he had only received one contract from a Liberal, who happened to be a cousin.15

Makers has to have drains and a water supply. There are two firms in town which could carry out the work, but they are not chosen by competitive bidding for each contract as would be the case elsewhere. Instead, the Brunnenmeister (the master of the fountains) is elected by the Gemeinderat on a party vote. In 1971 I met the then Brunnenmeister who had been recently elected by the Liberal majority on the Gemeinderat and who had invested substantially in new equipment to carry out the work. The competition, a CVP plumbing contractor, was sharpening its spanners in the hope of a CVP victory. In reply to my amazed question as to whether his firm was at least technically the better of the two, he smiled modestly and replied 'I wouldn't say that.' I recall from the same period a conversation with a Young Liberal activist in a pub in the mountains, who looked round conspira-torially and, seeing a group of young men at a nearby table, began to whisper, observing 'we are not all Liberals here'.

Here too, as in other elements of Swiss life, the ancient identities have begun to crumble. The automatic allegiance to a party, as a kind of familial inheritance, has eroded. Young and old agree that party labels no longer bind as they once did, not least because the end of the twentieth century has seen the erosion of ideology everywhere. The 'C in Christian Democracy, the 'L' in the Liberal Party of Luzern and the 'S' in the Socialist Party have been drained of real content. Partisan politics continue as habit rather than conviction and even in rural, central Switzerland, European matters have broken traditional ties. In the referendum on membership of the European Economic Area on 6 December 1992, both the CVP and the Liberals officially backed membership. Makers voted emphatically 'No' by over two to one in a turnout of 85.6% of those entitled to vote and in April 1995, in elections for the Luzern cantonal parliament, the two dominant, historic parties, the Liberals and the CVP, dropped to a mere 70.3% of the vote. The surprise winner was a party which said 'No' to Europe and 'No' to change of any kind. The traditional Bernese and largely Protestant party of the lower middle classes, the Swiss People's Party (Schweizerische Volkspartei or SVP), which had never been represented in Catholic Luzern, took 8.86% of the vote in Makers and 8.10% in the canton of Luzern as a whole.16

If party allegiance is now weakening, its previous ferocity still presents a puzzle. Why were the divisions so deep.and bitter? When I asked an activist in 1971, he found it hard to explain. He had to confess that there were few matters of principle that separated CVP and Liberals. As a leftish Young Liberal, he thought the CVP social policy rather better and more progressive than the Liberal. Of course he had CVP friends, though rather fewer than Liberal ones. Yes, his family were solidly Liberal on both sides and always had been. He tried to put into words the differences between the parties and retreated into emotional expressions of a rather vague kind. Liberals were in some way more open-minded, not less Roman Catholic than the CVP, but less clerical, more attached to free enterprise and less attracted to 'etatist' solutions. Makers Liberals feel an affinity with the Liberal Party of Luzern city, a certain cosmopolitanism, radicalism even, combativeness. Finally, he urged me not to confuse the Luzern Liberals with the Zurich Freisinnige or the Basel Radicals. They were, he said with some contempt, the parties of big business, not a popular people's party like the Liberals in Luzern.

Party history in Canton Luzern is in a curious way a shorthand for social and economic history. The CVP of today is still in many ways the old Katholisch-Konservativ, the 'KK' of yesterday, entrenched in certain country districts in Canton Luzern and in the Waldstatte (the 'Forest Cantons' of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden), Valais and Fribourg. Its new 'Christian Democratic' image is an attempt to get out of the Catholic ghetto by following the example of the German Christian Democratic Union; what was a confessional must become a mass party. In Canton Luzern the key to party politics lies buried in the centuries of estrangement between the patrician, cosmopolitan oligarchy who ran the elegant little city of Luzern and the more backward, democratic, conservative, clerical peasantry of the valleys. In Luzern, unlike the position in Bern, the aristocracy were among the leaders of the Liberal regeneration of the 1830s. The content of Luzern liberalism, its elitism and its 'Josefine' view that the state must control the church, pushed it into a head-on collision with the mystical, violent, peasant-born Joseph Leu von Ebersol, whose democratic, conservative and Catholic coup of 1841 began the process leading up to the civil war, the Sonderbundskrieg. Again it was the Liberal, rationalist, anti-Vatican, patrician leadership who regained power after the defeat of the Sonderbund and who maintained it in distant alliance with the very different sort of liberalism represented in the victorious Protestant cantons until the 1870s. These conflicts, the struggle between city and country, between enlightened, rationalist cosmopolitanism and clerical, pious, democratic conservatism, live on in the shimmering, almost invisible mental structures of the attitude of the Young Liberal in Makers. The continuity of history in Switzerland reproduces these attitudes from generation to generation until both origin and ideological content seem lost in a haze. I have no idea what permutations of historic circumstance, settlement or local condition gave Makers a predominantly Liberal character. Each community will have its own version of the history of the whole, long, complicated and difficult to assess. What strikes the eye here is the rootedness in the past of even the election of the president of the communal council in one small Swiss Gemeinde. As Johannes von Miiller, the great Swiss historian of the eighteenth century, said, 'above all, nothing is either large or small, because it looks to be so on the map; it all depends on the spirit'.

The spirit of a community like Grenchen in Canton Solothurn is obviously going to be different. Grenchen, known as the most 'proletarian' city in Switzerland, produces 70% of the internal parts for watches made in Switzerland and contains the headquarters of several of the most famous Swiss watch companies, as well as the administrative centre of Ebauches SA with its central computer controlling the operation of its subsidiary companies. There are many other large and small firms in the watch and allied industries. Its population of 17,000 spreads out over the flat basin of the River Aare and along both sides of the motorway from Biel to Solothurn. Yet it too is a Gemeinde and has all the forms of communal government which Malters has. Grenchen has 11,000 voters compared to 4,000 and an annual expenditure of about Sfr 80 million compared to Sfr 23 million in Makers.17 As an industrial town, where a high percentage of the population have settled in the last twenty-five years, politics lack the personal intensity of a face-to-face community such as Malters. The scale of Grenchen is larger. The Gemeinderat in Grenchen has thirty members. In the 1993 elections the Socialists had twelve members, the Freisinnige (Radicals, the sister party of Luzern's Liberals) had ten, the CVP four, the Greens two and the Freedom Party two, a distribution of votes that, with the exception of the rise and fall of fringe parties, had hardly changed for years.18 As in Malters, so in Grenchen Swiss voters prefer continuity to change. Although 11,000 persons are entitled to vote in the commune, the city still operates through a town meeting system of Gemeindeversammlung. As Stadtschreiber Herr Rolf Enggist explained to me, this means that only a small fraction of the population actually exercises its right to vote. A normal turnout might be anything from 150 to 500 citizens. Even on controversial matters, when a thousand might appear, the active citizenry will still be less than a tenth of those eligible.

In Grenchen, as elsewhere, the old communalism has become a fiction. The natural alternative to the Gemeindeversammlung is the postal ballot, which, its advocates argue, would yield a higher and more democratic participation in civic affairs. Busy, professional people simply lack the time to attend the Gemeindeversammlung. Oddly enough Malters, though much smaller, no longer has a Gemeindeversammlung and is one of the two communes of 107 in Luzern to use postal ballots exclusively for all communal voting, although the Gemeindeversammlung was abolished in Malters because it was too partisan, not because it was unrepresentative. Grenchen and many other urban communes resist the change. Grenchen has, at least, recognised realities by adding to the unwieldy and unusually large Gemeinderat of thirty an executive committee of seven members, which actually takes decisions and has really for practical purposes become the Gemeinderat.19 In some Swiss communities failure to participate in democratic life has now become chronic. Geneva is notorious for low turnout but other cities are not much better.

The city of Zurich poses these problems in their most acute form. Until the late nineteenth century, the city had a comfortable population of about 28,000, while the eleven communes around it had grown rapidly. The depression of the 1890s hit them hard and bankruptcy forced a fusion of Zurich city and the surrounding communes on 1 January 1893. At a stroke Zurich's population passed the 100,000 mark and the city's area was twenty-eight times larger.20 Today with a population of 355,297, of whom 89,284 are foreigners, Zurich city is more than twice as large as any other Swiss city. The canton of Zurich with its 1,176,983 residents represents one in six of the entire Swiss population. The city of Zurich had an annual expenditure in 1993 of Sfr 5,680,400,000, which was larger than the total outlay of the six eastern Swiss cantons of St Gallen, Thurgau, Graubüaut;nden, Schaffhausen and the two Appenzells put together.21 Its Gemeinderat is, in effect, an urban parliament with 125 members, for which in the 1994 elections 1,488 candidates, distributed among nineteen parties, competed. The results concern us less than the trends in voter participation. Since 1928 the share of those entitled to vote who actually exercise their rights has fallen steadily from 90.6% in 1928 to the 1990s when only 49.0% (1990) and 48.6% (1994) bothered to turn out.22 Exactly what the trend means has been the subject of debate in Switzerland for more than a generation without yielding any agreement.

Yet even in the anonymity of a great modern city, the Swiss 'way of doing things' persists and shapes political behaviour. As in little Makers, so in Zurich the voters rarely eject anybody from office. Arthur Gilgen continued as education minister of Canton Zurich for twenty-four years even though he had long severed connections with the party that put him there.23 The late Emil Landholt served on the city council of Zurich equally as long and for seventeen of those years was the mayor. He chose to step down at the age of seventy-one; nobody would have forced him to go. In a long obituary, Alfred Cattani summed up Emil Landholt's virtues, those essential qualities that made him the perfect Stapi, a dialect and rather affectionate abbreviation for Stadtprdsident:

Emil Landholt gave to Zurich during his term of office the charm and familiarity of a village. He knew, or so it seemed, each and everybody, and used the familiar 'Du' with many of them. If one invited him to something, he would come, and if you met him on the way to one of his countless receptions, he would spontaneously invite you, whether it was a grand official occasion or a private party . . . His 'be nice to each other' [in dialect, of course, 'sind lieb miteinand' - JS] was directed at those whom he wished to tie into the personal and political consensus.24

Landholt embodied every virtue the Swiss value in politics. He was not grand, nor abrasive. He put consensus and community above ideology, even though he became the first 'bourgeois' mayor after a long period of 'Red' dominance. He said 'Du' to people, spoke dialect and made Zurich seem like a village, not a megalopolis. Like the directors of Ciba-Geigy who take the tram to work, the Stapi was volksnah, near to the people, an essential attribute of political success in Switzerland!

Swiss political structures all strive to be volksnah and to respond to the wishes of the citizen. By dividing power equally among three levels of government, Swiss federalism spreads a denser net of political institutions over the body politic than any other system in Europe. The fact that the communes spend as much tax money as the cantonal and federal governments gives local politics a direction and impact not found in other systems, which praise devolution but do not practise it. The system operates as it does because higher authorities leave lower ones alone. It is an unwritten rule of Swiss federalism that cantonal governments leave communes to get on with their affairs as they see fit. When Canton Zug took up the case of the immigrant family whose commune had charged too much for citizenship, it did so unwillingly even though higher principles, such as natural justice and the constitutional guarantees of equality before the law, were involved. It took much persuasion by the Landschreiber; as chief professional advisor to the canton's government, to convince members of the government that they had no choice but to act.25

Swiss federalism rests on structures with replaceable parts. Since cantons are the result of complex historical aggregation, with bits and pieces added and taken away over time, they can, if necessary, be divided or adjusted, as long as the 'sovereign people' gives its consent to such changes. Division of political units often eases a conflict. During the 1830 revolution the aristocrats in Basel city, threatened by rebellious peasants demanding greater rights in government, preserved their regime by allowing the peasants to secede. They accepted a division into two half-cantons, a city-state called 'Basel-Stadt' and a country canton called 'Basel-Land', which in spite of reunification efforts remain half-cantons to this day.

The jigsaw puzzle of communal sovereignty produces jagged and irregular cantonal boundaries and in some cases results in bits of territory not contiguous with the cantonal borders. Such bits and pieces are called 'enclaves' or 'exclaves'. Canton Schaffhausen, which is on the right bank of the Rhine, contains several bits of German territory. Kleinlutzel and Mariastein belong to Canton Solothurn although they are on the other side of the Birs river and have no contiguous borders with their nominal authority, and a piece of Italian territory, Campione d'ltalia, sits on Lago di Lugano surrounded by Swiss territory. Splitting political units in this way acts to reduce friction or, at least, to contain it in the smallest element of tolerable dissatisfaction. (Swiss federalism is both absolute and relative at the same time. The system works because the parts are moveable. The parts are moveable if the 'sovereign' says they are.

None of this overlapping and irregular jurisdiction would have seemed odd to anybody who knew Europe before the French Revolution. Enclaves and exclaves occurred all over the map and especially among the three thousand sovereignties which belonged to the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. The French with their obsession with uniformity, equality and centralisation impressed their ideals on modern consciousness so that it seems strange now to imagine a political authority without integrated territorial cohesion. Swiss politics combines in a unique, historic amalgam the surviving bits of the old Empire infused with modern practices of popular sovereignty from below. Switzerland represents a model of a Europe that might have evolved if the French Revolution had not succeeded in transforming the European state. It is for this reason that each canton resembles a set of Chinese boxes, or, perhaps better, a beehive into which history has built dozens of smaller boxes, the Gemeinden. They in turn are often subdivided into ethnic, religious or cultural sub-units which, while not formally recognised, give the commune its characteristic colour or tone. This cellular political system allows ethnic and other particularisms to flourish side by side. It gives to Swiss political life a marvellous mosaic surface. The residents of the communes 'sous les roches' may be Catholic and anti-Bernese while those 'sur les roches' may be the opposite, but as long as the walls between compartments have been drawn adequately and the larger cantonal box has room for both, no troubles arise.

Yet even in Switzerland, as we have seen, troubles can and do arise. For thirty years Swiss politics was troubled by a separatist movement of the residents of the Swiss Jura. The problem of separatism and incompatible communities refusing to live together is alas too common; the Swiss solution is unique. Describing how the Swiss 'peace process' worked not only illuminates the essential character of Swiss federalism but may offer some useful reflections applicable to other areas where similar territorial battles rage. The Jura crisis was small in scale but large in significance, like so much in Swiss history.

The origins of today's troubles can be seen in the debris left by Napoleon's new order. Before 1789 the Jura districts had belonged to the prince-bishop of Basel. Exiled by the Reformation, the prince-bishop had established his see in the pretty Lilliputian residence of Arlesheim, from which he ruled the poor, remote valleys of the eastern Jura for more than two centuries. In the name of reason and revolution, the French republic put an end to the secular domain of the prince-bishop as it was to do to so many other mini-principalities and tiny kingdoms. For a while the Jura became part of the republican French 'Departement du Mont Terrible' only to be reassigned several times during the Napoleonic era. The conservative statesmen who tried to put Europe together again in 1814 and 1815 knew that turning back the clocks would not work, though rulers like the Elector of Hesse-Cassel and the King of Savoy tried to do that by demoting all those promoted and abrogating all decrees sanctioned under Napoleon. The Gracious Lords of Bern wanted their subject territories back, especially the lovely and prosperous Vaudois lands along Lac Leman, but the Swiss Committee of the Vienna Congress considered that too risky. Napoleon's nineteen cantons were sanctioned and the Bernese were compensated for the loss of the Vaud by being given the miscellaneous possessions of the former prince-bishop of Basel. It was a poor deal. 'They have taken our wine cellar and corn chamber', said a contemporary Bernese wag, 'and left us the garret'. As the inset to Map 2 on p. 95 shows, the image is well chosen. The northern districts of Porrentruy, Delemont and Saignelegier, are very like the Swiss garret, remote, self-contained and very hard to reach even by today's means of transport. The formal decision of the Vienna Congress could, of course, not be refused Canton Bern was notified that it had been agreed 'to procure for it and to guarantee to it Bienne with its territory, Erguel, Moutier and the Porrentruy'.26 The formal union of the city of Biel-Bienne and the francophone districts along the lake, the Bieler See, was, on the other hand, a real gain. The residents of the southern districts of the Jura were content for they were largely Protestant and welcomed the union with a large, comfortable Protestant state like Canton Bern. The residents of the northern territories were Roman Catholic, poor and discontented.

The nineteenth century saw the religious and geographical divisions harden. By the twentieth century, better economic conditions had eroded the coolness of the north Jura towards Bern but had also complicated the situation by bringing German-speaking immigrants into hitherto purely French territories. In the census of 1880, the whole Jura contained 24% German-speakers while in some of the southern districts it was over 30%. The first world war revived separatism, but as the Protestant Synod noted with deep suspicion in 1917: 'All members of the separatist committee are Catholic; not a single Protestant has taken part. Are we not justified, wejurassien Protestants, in seeing in the separatist movement clericalism at work in one of its most audacious enterprises?'27 French-speaking Jurassien radicals were convinced of it and even welcomed German immigration on the grounds that every Protestant vote was a vote against clericalism. During the 1920s and 1930s the Jura as a whole was so hard hit by the depression that separatism as an issue and the Catholic-Protestant division tended to fade out.

The rebirth of the separatist movement can be dated: 20 September 1947. Bern was one of the few cantons left in which the Regierungsrat (Executive Council) was still elected within the Grosser Rat (the cantonal parliament) and not directly by the people. On that day a member from the Jura was refused election to the executive because he spoke French. The language question temporarily united both Protestant and Catholic, north and south, in the Comite de Moutier. The committee's efforts eventually led to amendments to the constitution of Canton Bern recognising the identity of the Jura in practical and symbolic ways. During the 1950s a new movement, the Rassemblement jurassien (RJ) gained ground in the north and began a popular initiative for a separate canton. The leaders of the separatist movement managed to get 24,000 signatures on the petition calling for a referendum among the Jura people about separation. This amounted to 55% of those eligible to vote. The separatists hoped to demonstrate in the ensuing ballot that the Jura was solid. They knew they would be heavily outvoted by the rest of Canton Bern, but a big 'Yes' vote in the Jura would create a splash. When the votes had been counted not only had the whole canton said 'no' to opening the separation question but so had the Jura by a small margin('Yes': 15,163; 'No': 16,354). The division was geographical and religious. The three Roman Catholic northern districts (Porrentruy, Delemont and Saignelegier) voted two to one in favour, while the three Protestant southern districts (Moutier, Courtelary and La Neuveville) voted three to one against. The confessional line was particularly sharp in the Vallon de St Imier where the old Catholic communes 'sous les roches' which had once belonged to the bishopric of Basel voted overwhelmingly 'Yes', while the villages 'sur les roches', which had never been part of the bishopric and were Protestant, voted equally overwhelmingly 'No'. Another attempt at the direct democratic instrument, an initiative of May 1962, was an even more embarrassing failure for the separatists.

The dilemma for the residents of the northern Jura seemed complete. Direct democracy must defeat them. They were a minority of "the total population of the canton and even of the historic territories which they claimed. They made up a smaller proportion of the population of Bern in the 1960s than they had in 1900. On the other hand, they refused to abandon their claim to all of the Jura even though the southern Jura resolutely opposed separation. They felt their frustrations and nursed their very real sense of grievance. The slogan of the anti-separatists in 1959 — 'Votez non, et on n'en parlera plus!' — proved as false as the hopes of the separatists. Almost inevitably, the Rassemblement jurassien moved toward direct action and violence. In 1962, the youth wing of the movement was formed. They called themselves les Beliers after the medieval battering rams which became their symbol. Bernard Varrin, their leader, summed up their position: 'We use provocation because we believe that it is the only language that the Swiss understand.' After the early 1960s direct action and political moves were linked in a counterpoint of unrest utterly familiar to those who know Northern Ireland.

In 1965 the Jura members of the Bern parliament placed before it a seventeen-point programme for an autonomy statute, and after the cantonal elections of 1966 the new Regierungsrat worked out plans for both a constitutional revision and a statute of autonomy. In March 1970 the voters of Canton Bern approved an amendment to the constitution according to which a petition signed by 5,000 eligible Jura voters could demand a vote on separation. Only Jurassiens were eligible to vote on the matter. If separation were accepted, individual communes might vote in a second ballot on whether they wished to remain in Canton Bern. The Regierungsrat gave itself the right to make this provision operative as soon as an autonomy statute had been passed by the cantonal parliament. Unfortunately the deadlock remained. The separatists, knowing that on those terms they would lose a plebiscite, rejected the constitutional amendment on the grounds that only 'genuine' Jurassiens should have the right to vote. They demanded that all non-resident Jurassiens living elsewhere in Switzerland be included and all 'non-genuine' Jurassiens, in practice, German-speaking residents, be excluded. No democratic regime could possibly agree to a 'cooked' electoral roll of that kind and, knowing that, the separatists refused to look at any solution short of'Canton Jura' but more autonomous than the existing arrangements. The Union des Patriotes jurassiens founded in opposition to separatism rejected both the initiative or plebiscite and the idea of a new statute of autonomy. The 'Third Force', the Mouvement pour l'Unite du Jura founded in 1969, wanted an autonomy statute, which would make the Jura a separate electoral unit for national and cantonal elections, the creation of a Jura regional council and the establishment of a regional capital.

In June 1973, the separatist spokesman in the Nationalrat M.Jean Wilhelm (CVP), the editor of the Porrentruy newspaper Le Pays, moved a resolution urging the Bundesrat (Federal Council) 'to intervene decisively in the Jura problem, to find a way out of the dilemma and to seek a genuine solution'. He argued that Canton Bern by its own devices could never achieve one. By this stage, the Beliers had a membership of about 2,000, organised now in tightly knit paramilitary units. During the previous five years they had concentrated their activities on making the cantonal authorities look silly and in popularising their slogan 'Jura libre'. In 1968 they celebrated Swiss National Day on April Fool's day instead of the first of August. They had dressed as chimney sweeps to demonstrate against the visit of the president of the Regierungsrat, the cantonal executive, in Porrentruy. They occupied a police station in Delemont in June 1968, the Swiss Embassy in Paris in 1972 and in a flashy double action occupied the Belgian Embassy in Bern and the Swiss Embassy in Brussels at the same time to show international solidarity with Walloon extremists. Other actions were directed at the army, the national parliament and the city of Bern. They attacked four times in 1972 in acts of provocative violence, pouring tar in the tracks of Bern's trams, trying to nail the door shut to the City Hall and burning old tyres in the public squares.

During the autumn of 1973, the crisis seemed to deepen. The debate in the Bern cantonal parliament inflamed sentiments in all the communities. The Volkspartei (SVP) deputies, representatives of the German-speaking Bernese peasants who set the tone of cantonal politics, enraged the French minority with their complacency. Canton Bern, they argued, had made great concessions in limiting the referendum to the Jura districts and in accepting such provisions in its constitution. On 18 December 1973, the Regierungsrat announced that it had decided to put into effect the provisions of the amendment of 1970 and set 23 June 1974 as the date for a referendum on separation.

Once again, the melancholy lesson of the past fifteen years had been confirmed. Violence had worked. The RJ had put themselves on the map in a big way but with the slightly ironical result that the party could only succeed by sacrificing its previous principles. If it accepted the plebiscite as legitimate, it conceded that 'Canton Jura', a united francophone canton including Biel—Bienne and the southern districts, would never be realised. By participating in the plebiscite it also surrendered the principle that only 'genuine' Jurassiens be allowed to vote. At first the RJ stuck to its old line. Roland Beguelin, the General Secretary of the RJ, a gifted and charismatic figure (and incidentally a Protestant from the southern Jurassien commune of Tramelan) gave a long, exclusive interview to the left-wing National-Zeitung in which he predicted that there would have to be casualties before a solution was reached. Violence was the only way. Gradually opinion shifted, and when the party met in May 1974, delegates voted overwhelmingly to take part in the plebiscite. On 23 June 1974, the RJ duly went to the polls along with over 90% of those entitled to vote. 36,802 voted for separation and 34,507 against, an overall majority of 2,745. The story made the front pages of foreign papers like The Times and Le Figaro and was universally hailed as another example of Swiss good sense; Sonderfall Schweiz had again set an example to the world.

Violence is, however, not so easily laid to rest. What one side starts, another may finish. The 23 June vote shook the southern communities very profoundly. Ancient hostilities revived. Fears of Catholic plots could not be allayed by soothing promises that the RJ would accept the separate identities of the southern districts and that it would be prepared to give them cantonal status as a half-canton like the two Appenzells. The active southerners wanted no part of the new canton. In Map 2 (excluding the inset) the reader can see how the Jura districts voted on 23 June 1974. Those areas cross-hatched and dotted in grey voted for separation; those in white opposed it. Nine communes indicated by horizontal lines in the Moutier district voted for separation while five northern communes (vertical lines) opposed the separatist trend of their neighbours. In Bonfoi on the French border there was a tie.

In the six months after the plebiscite, an anti-separatist youth movement sprang into life. Its membership grew to 5,000 by the end of 1974. The Sangliers, the wild boars, promised to meet the Beliers head-on and in language too tragically familiar in Northern Ireland Jean-Paul Gehler, their leader, warned his opponents that while the Sangliers would not strike first, they would retaliate. The remaining elements of the so-called 'Third Force' (Mouvement pour l'Unite du Jura) found themselves ground down between increasingly intransigent separatist and anti-separatist movements. Anti-separatists began to take a violent line, and talk of Irlandisation became common on both sides of the deepening divide. After some confusion, anti-separatists in the three southern districts launched a petition calling for a second plebiscite in which the three southern districts could vote to detach themselves from the north. Extremely complicated legal battles began, as the RJ desperately tried to contest the legality of the initiative. At that point, as tempers were becoming very heated, the Bundesrat intervened and appointed three of its members as a mediation group. In January 1975 Dr Furgler, one of the three members, went as far as to meet Beguelin secretly, a meeting discovered only by a chance indiscretion. Petitions, counter-petitions, court judgements and governmental pronouncements on federal and cantonal level gradually began to focus on the issue of the second plebiscite. Attempts to contest the provisions of the amendment of 1970 failed. The Bern government stuck to its right to hold a plebiscite once the petitions by the requisite number of citizens had been duly accredited and verified. Hence on 16 March 1975 a second plebiscite in the three southern districts took place on the issue of remaining within Canton Bern. Table 3.1 shows the results of the voting (the figures in brackets are those of the plebiscite of 23 June 1974).

The vote clarified some but not all of the issues. The narrowness of the outcome in the town of Moutier provoked protests, and in April 1975 the RJ wrote formally to the Bundesrat demanding that the results in the district of Moutier be set aside on the grounds that the outcome had been 'manipulated' by the Bernese authorities. During the night of 24 April, a demonstration of Be Hers in Moutier got out of hand. Eight hundred demonstrators fought a six-hour battle with police in the worst violence of the entire crisis. Militant separatists threw petrol bombs, rocks, paving stones, iron bars and bicycle chains, and ten policemen were seriously injured.

The next stage of the process involved plebiscites on 7 and 14 September 1975 in each of the fifteen communes which voted differently from the majority of their district in the plebiscite of 16 March 1975. These communes, as a result of the vote, were now either to be made into Bernese enclaves within the new Canton Jura or vice versa. The result in Moutier was about as close on 7 September 1975 as on 16 March 1975 (2,151 for and 2,540 against joining the new canton) and was followed by the worst rioting in the recent history of Switzerland. Six hundred police were in action against hundreds of separatist demonstrators rampaging through the town. The cantonal police chief Herr Robert Bauder described the incident as 'not mere clashes but an attack on the constitutional order'. Roland Beguelin promised his supporters in a speech in Delemont on 14 September 1975 to fight on until the whole Jura had been 'liberated'.

By the end of 1975, the three plebiscites had determined that there would be a new twenty-sixth Swiss canton, Canton Jura (23 June 1974), that the other districts of the Bernese Jura, though French-speaking, would remain Bernese (16 March 1975) and that the German-speaking but Catholic Laufenthal could choose its cantonal allegiance, i.e. move its political membership from Bern to another canton. Beguelin's threats turned out to be empty. A constituent assembly, elected in the new Canton Jura, met in 1976 and by 1978 had drafted a new constitution and on 1 January 1979, La Republique et Canton du Jura, its cantonal coat of arms the episcopal mitre of the historic Bishopric of Basel, began its existence. As Bernard Prongue observes, Jura soon accepted a 'politique consensuelle bien helvetique'.28 On 12 November 1989, the Laufenthal voted by 4,650 to 4,343 to join Canton Basel-Land, which was confirmed by the Bernese parliament by 95 to 20 on 25 June 1991. A joint commission was established to assess and transfer cantonal assets from Bern to Basel-Land which completed the transfer on 1 January 1994. All of these moves had to be further ratified bv additional referenda at cantonal and national level. The whole process came to an end when the tiny commune of Vellerat with seventy voters opted in June of 1995 to leave Bern and joinjura, subject, of course, to a final national referendum on the issue.

Over thirty years passed before the Jura crisis could be resolved, but it was resolved ultimately without violence. The fact that in the 1970s the world-wide depression and the particular crisis of the Swiss watch industry hit the whole Jura region unusually hard concentrated minds on more immediate issues than Jura libre' but the speed and smoothness of the adaptation still needs further thought.(Three general features of Swiss political reality stand out.^> (The first is the way the cellular structure of politics acts to focus issues into ever smaller and more precise geographical units^The adjustment "of a unit as tiny as Vellerat illustrates the point. (The second has to do with identity^If Porrentruy or Delemont had really been 'French', as some extremists wanted, they would never have become important. They would sleep the deep slumber reserved by the extreme centralisation of the French state for small, remote, market towns. There is an irony here. These two little towns make domestic and international news because, and only because, they are Swiss. £Fhe essence of Swiss identity is the preservation of even the smallest ethnic, linguistic and cultural units.YThe circle comes round. By granting the Jurassiens their wishes, the Swiss assert the most important characteristic of 'Swissness', the equality of all human communities before the bar of history.

A third feature of the Jura crisis is the peculiar flexibility of Swiss constitutions. The ultimate solution to the Jura crisis, if it is the ultimate solution, was made possible by an amendment to the Bern constitution accepted by the voters in 1970, but Bern is not unique in this. All cantons have constitutions like the federal one. The constitution of Canton Solothurn of 1887, which in its turn had wholly replaced the constitution of 1867, had been revised twenty-three times by 1963, and the process of revision continues merrily. Swiss constitutions are pedestrian, practical and detailed. Constitutions are merely substitutes for the sovereignty of the people and can easily be altered if the 'sovereign people' change their opinions.

Underlying the provisions of a Swiss constitution is the assumption that ultimately the ideal state is the direct democracy or the Landsgemeinde, the assembly of all free citizens in the historic Ring. This, the pure form, not the clauses of a constitution or its preamble, is the truly venerable element in Swiss political life. The institutions of collective, communal self-government are very old. Reasonably firm evidence exists for the existence of Landsgemeinden as early as the 1230s in Canton Uri. The first Landsgemeinden seem to have taken place in Zug in 1376, Appenzell in 1378 and Glarus in 1387. Schwyz, Obwalden, Nidwalden and Uri have had regular Landsgemeinden since the early fourteenth century and Ob- and Nidwalden have them today, along with the two Appenzells and Glarus. Similar evidence from neighbouring Graubüaut;nden indicates that the first loose alliance or league of free valley communes, the League of the House of God (Gotteshausbund), had begun to operate by the latter part of the 1360s. Gradually the independent valley communities united, in the Swiss case in a set of federal treaties, in the case of Graubiinden in three loose-knit leagues, but in both associations, sovereignty remained firmly placed at the base. Until the outbreak of the French Revolution, the Republic of the Three Leagues, today's Canton of Graubiinden, represented the most extreme form of communal sovereignty. The Republic was made up of three leagues, twenty-six higher jurisdictions, forty-nine jurisdictional communes and 227 autonomous neighbourhoods 'with competitive, overlapping frequently incompatible claims', or as an eighteenth-century traveller put it, 'each village of Raetia, each parish and each neighbourhood already constituted a tiny republic'.29 The union of these tiny republics was accomplished by a system of referenda in which the village community, not the voter, was the sovereign body. Tiny Biindner villages were consulted on everything from a state treaty with the Habsburgs to the repair of certain barrels and vats in Maienfeld; the equivalent in Landsgemeinde regions was frequent and lengthy meetings. Twenty-four took place in Canton Schwyz in 1765. Benjamin Barber believes that these historic circumstances still mould Swiss political attitudes:

To this day, the Swiss seem less interested in the power of offices and the personality of officeholders than the citizens of other less direct democracies. The collegial federal executive with its anonymous rotating presidency continues to embody this predilection of direct democracy for treating the citizenry as the real government and the elected government as powerless attendants.30

It is certainly true that representative, parliamentary governments never really took root. There were no Edmund Burkes nor James Madisons in Swiss history. When the ultra-modern liberals of the 1840s tried to impose representative parliamentary structures, they were not entirely successful. The traditions of direct democracy were so deeply rooted that borrowing from the US constitution could not transform the new Bundesstaat into a Western, representative republic. In the end, the men of 1848 were Swiss too, sharing certain instinctive assumptions about the 'sovereign people'. They submitted their draft to the people for ratification by referendum, as if that were the most natural thing in the world. They put in clauses making a referendum on revision of the federal constitution obligatory and allowing popular initiative for a 'total revision' of the constitution. It is, I think, equally significant that in the same year, 1848, Schwyz and Zug, two of the oldest cantons, gave up the Landsgemeinde, and Schwyz immediately adopted the referendum as a substitute.

1848 turned out not to be the last word on the subject of constitutions. It began a process which has not yet ended, the reflection of a constant tension between Swiss governments and the 'sovereign people'. In the years after 1848 the as yet unfulfilled aspirations for popular participation in government bubbled up in cantonal politics first. A typical manifestation of that urge found expression in the Landsgemeinde of 15 December 1867, to press for more democracy in Canton Zurich. The proclamation declared:

It is an irrevocable right of free men to meet under open skies in public assemblies to discuss affairs of the country and to decide them in principle . . . thousands of us today make use of that right to demand a revision of our cantonal constitution.31

The democrats in other cantons pushed for similar changes and in the early 1870s the movement gathered momentum on federal level. After a first attempt to ratify a completely revised constitution in 1872 failed, a second attempt in 1874 succeeded. 340,199 citizens and 14V2 cantons voted 'Yes' to the new constitution to 198,013 and 7V2 cantons who said 'No'. The new constitution contained a provision forfakultative, that is, optional, referenda on parliamentary legislation, if 30,000 citizens demanded one within three months. In 1977 that number was raised to 50,000. In 1891 the right of initiative for individual, as opposed to total, revision of the constitution was added. Under the amended provision 50,000 voters (also raised in 1977 to 100,000) have the right, as Article 121 states, to offer such amendments either 'in general form' or 'as written drafts'. Between 1874 and 1977, 6.8% of federal pieces of legislation had been subjected to referendum, of which about two out of three had been rejected.32

The great Swiss novelist, Gottfried Keller, who served in cantonal government, greeted these changes of the 1870s with suitable pragmatism. 'A constitution is not a stylish examination performance . . . but a great big sieve, through which the final, secure and clear legal majority must be strained . . . common responsibility helps to bear the consequences.'33 The constitution turns into the minute book of popular decisions. At the back of the official document entitled Bundesverfassung der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft (Federal Constitution of the Helvetic Confederation) there are nineteen printed pages for the 130 amendments adopted between 1874 and 1994 and a further seventeen pages to list the 133 rejected amendments. Successful amendments cover topics as different as equality of rights for men and women (14 june 1981), which is clearly a 'constitutional' issue in the normal sense of the word, and the schedule of licence fees for lorries over 3.5 tonnes (referendum of 26 February 1984) which quite clearly is not. The Swiss Constitution could not be more different from the hallowed parchment housed in the United States National Archives, which a reverent citizenry may see each day in the Rotunda behind its thick glass protection. The US Constitution of 1787 would certainly qualify in Keller's terms as 'a stylish examination performance'. The Swiss would not. As Wolfgang Linder has written about the Swiss Constitution, 'the image of the stablest government in the world is in contrast with the most unstable constitution'.34

The growth of pressure groups and the spread of mass communications make it easier to mobilise small bodies of voters to arrive at either 50,000 or 100,000 signatures. The number of constitutional amendments brought to a vote has doubled every twenty years since 1930 but with one unexpected and baneful consequence. The equality of cantons (the federal principle) demands that revisions be approved by a majority of cantons as well as a majority of individual votes cast (the democratic principle of one person, one vote). Federalism and democracy clash head on over the votes on referenda and initiatives. As the population leaves the rural areas, voting power paradoxically increases in the cantons losing people. Since a majority in more than half the cantons must ratify a popular vote, the votes of just 9% of the whole population in the under-populated rural cantons, if distributed in the right way, can block an important amendment or treaty voted by a majority in the urban and densely settled areas. Whereas in 1848 a vote in Appenzell-Innerrhoden equalled that of eleven people in Zurich, today it has risen to thirty-eight.35

The Federal Constitution resembles a sheet on which history has scribbled changes, crossed out certain sentences and forgotten others. Pieces of constitution embody today in fossil form conflicts of early periods such as regulations on bridal dowries, emigration agencies and child work in factories. There is something unsatisfactory and undignified about the details of heavy goods vehicles being enshrined in a constitutional framework. For thirty years the federal government and parliament have been moving, crab-like, towards a 'total revision' of the federal constitution of 1874. Finally in June 1995, the Federal Council presented a proposal for a step-by-step rewriting of the constitution to be submitted to the people in 1998 on the 150th anniversary of the modern federal state and the constitution of 1848. The process which the Federal Council has likened to a series of military advances (Nachfuhrung) will regroup provisions, scrap obsolete ones and introduce specific rights and protections which have become in fact the unwritten law of the land, like the new Article 10, 'Protection of Private and Family Life', which forbids telephone tapping or bugging and guarantees protection against misuse of computerised data.36

In the area of popular rights the new draft reorganises and defines the existing referenda and initiatives. There will be a new general initiative which will permit 100,000 registered voters to introduce, repeal or amend both constitutional and legislative provisions. The fakultative or optional referendum will be extended to all state treaties, not just those which must be embedded in national legislation, and finally a new category of referendum will be created. If a third of both houses of parliament so vote, certain important substantive or financial measures, such as the approval of a major investment, may be submitted to popular approval. At the same time the draft raises the barriers from 50,000 to 100,000 signatures for existing fakultative referenda and from 100,000 to 200,000 for the existing constitutional initiatives.37

The existence of cantons acts today as it did in the nineteenth century as a laboratory of experimental politics. In the thirty years between 1965 and 1995 in which federal authorities have inched towards a total revision of the federal constitution, twelve cantons have adopted completely new constitutions and another eight are still in the process of revising.38 Our specimen canton, Canton Zug, belongs to the minority of cantons which have not revised their constitutions. The Zug constitution of 1 January 1894 has been amended more than thirty times over the past century. It too provides for a variety of obligatory and optional referenda. It may help the dazed reader if we look at the position in graphic form. Figure 1 illustrates how laws are passed in Canton Zug and which ones require popular participation.39

Another form of popular participation in politics requires corporate bodies to be consulted, not just individual voters. This procedure, known as Anhorung (listening to) or Vernehmlassung (permitting communication), has roots in constitutional practice. (The Federal Constitution requires the federal government to 'listen to' cantonal governments before it exercises powers conferred on it). Laws or decrees which affect federal rights to control water resources, to provide public housing, to regulate gymnastic organisations and sport instruction, to alter the rights of Swiss citizens abroad, to subsidise Swiss films, or which affect federal-state relations in other ways, must be submitted to the cantons so that their opinions can be heard. In addition both federal and cantonal governments have formalised consultative procedures which lay down precisely which bodies, boards or agencies have the right to be, and which may be, consulted in the evolution of particular legislation. Any Swiss bill goes through a tortuous process of consultation long before the executive submits a draft to the legislature. If the legislature eventually passes the bill, a negative outcome of a referendum may bury the project anyway.

The Swiss system aims to integrate diverse interests and to lock them into the negotiation of compromises. Government becomes a system of administration, adjustment, aggregation and consultation. The outcomes emerge slowly, if at all, from such processes. Urs Altermatt believes that as a result of the integration and reintegration of interests, groups and parties, the interlocking of political, economic and social pressure groups, the Swiss system has become 'blocked', and can no longer respond quickly enough to challenges.40 This sense of frustration has eroded popular satisfaction with all the levels of Swiss government. Even the very institutions of direct democracy have become unsettled and uncertain.

Direct democracy in Switzerland has profound effects on political life, but they are not easy to summarise. Their study has occupied a number of distinguished political scientists and political sociologists for nearly a century. In 1896 A. Lawrence Lowell gave the referendum good marks: 'it has certainly been a success in the sense that it produced the result for which it was established. It seems, on the whole, to have brought out the real opinion of the people.' The initiative on the other hand seemed to him 'bold' in conception but 'not likely to be of any great use to mankind; if, indeed, it does not prove to be merely a happy hunting-ground for extremists and fanatics'.41 Denis de Rougemont cites the case of a referendum in 1961, when the people rejected a law raising the tax on petrol by 7 centimes but allowed an amended one raising it by 5 to pass. My reaction is to think of this incident as a '2 centime' folly, but de Rougemont argues that the referendum 'obliges the authorities to justify in public their intentions, the press to discuss the text, the electorate to reflect on it and to inform itself, and all that keeps up and animates civic life'.42

It would be nice to believe that, but the evidence hardly supports the claim. The provisions for an obligatory and optional referendum have an honourable democratic pedigree but lay great burdens on officialdom. In the mid-1970s the Staatsschreiber of Canton Solothurn, the rough equivalent of the chancellor on federal level, very kindly showed me the books on these matters in his office. A cantonal referendum in March 1972 cost the taxpayers Sfr 83,019. Since there had been thirty-one such ballots in the ten years from 1962 to 1972, the citizenry were paying out at the rate of a quarter of a million francs per annum to allow an average of 40% of their number to say 'Yea' or 'Nay' to propositions such as the following:

The cantonal Constitution of 25 October 1887 will be amended by the following clause: Article lgbis: By means of legislative action and for the protection of the population in the event of catastrophes or warlike events measures may be taken which grant the Regierungsrat or the Cantonal Parliament for a limited period powers which deviate from the regulations governing the competence of such authorities in the Constitution.

In the past twenty years referenda have not got cheaper nor less numerous. Official statistics for 1992-4 show that between 6 June 1993 and 12 June 1994 the Swiss were called to the polls five times to vote on twenty-one federal initiatives and referenda with an average turnout of 45.6% of those entitled to vote. As we have seen in voting for city elections in Zurich, participation in referenda at all three levels of Swiss politics has declined, though not so catastrophically as pessimists predicted.43 Two prominent Swiss observers, Rene Rhinow, a Stdnderat (Senator) from Basel-Land, and Annemarie Huber-Hotz, general secretary of the Swiss parliament, have pointed out that since registered voters make up only 60% of the inhabitants of Switzerland and that of those only 40% go out to vote on referenda and initiatives, about 12% of the population will make up the majority in national matters. They also point out that referenda, introduced by progressives to achieve majorities for change, have instead given opposition groups a blocking leverage on Swiss legislation and in the end forced majorities to co-opt stubborn minorities into the consensus.44 What is also clear is that the number of popular initiatives continues to rise on both federal and cantonal level and suggests to Rhinow and Huber-Hotz a 'destabilisation of the system'.45

The referendum and initiative exercise an influence even if the voters never get to the polls at all. Every piece of legislation in a cantonal or federal parliament undergoes subtle alterations because a referendum might be the consequence of a given clause, a process which Jurg Steiner has called Referendumsdrohung — the referendum threat.46 The elaborate process which the civil service goes through before drafts of bills even get to parliament is also overshadowed by the moods of the 'sovereign'. Various political scientists have examined the legislative process in detail and others have looked at the consultative machinery, the Vernehmlassung procedures, to see where and in what ways the possible rejection of a bill has influenced its development. The results seem to be inconclusive. No one doubts that semi-direct democracy influences both consultation and legislation. Nobody, on the other hand, can establish exactly when or how it does so.

There is one exception: the obligation to hold referenda on state treaties which are without time limits or involve membership in international organisations or organisations dedicated to collective security. This amendment to the Constitution, adopted itself by referendum like all constitutional amendments, received overwhelming popular approval on 13 March 1977. Today critics like the Lausanne political scientist, Raimund E. Germann, consider it a form of'foreign political mutilation' and the Basel economist Silvio Borner considers it 'the most serious failure in constitutional construction of the post-war era'.47 These strong views arise because foreign politics today increasingly involves membership of international organisations, membership of collective security groupings and assent to world trade agreements. The weight of foreign affairs burdens Swiss politics but in a wholly new way.

'Europe' has forced the Swiss to confront their identity problems again and again. Whereas the threats of nationalism, fascism, nazism or communism strengthened the determination of the Swiss to remain apart, the threat of Europe works to weaken it. The Helvetic Confederation developed its institutions to confront external enemies. From 1 January 1995, for the first time in its history, Switzerland is surrounded by 'friends'. Germany, France, Italy and Austria are peaceful, capitalist, bourgeois republics, and all are members of the European Union. The European Union, because it is multinational and confederal, calls into question, at least as the Swiss now feel it, the need for their special case to survive.

The role of direct democracy in Switzerland's European crisis cannot be overestimated. A classic case was the sad fate of the so-called European Economic Area at the hands of the Swiss 'sovereign' in 1992. The story illustrates vividly how direct democracy limits Swiss foreign policy. On 17 January 1989 Jacques Delors offered an apparent solution to the Swiss identity crisis. He proposed in a speech to the European parliament in Strasbourg a 'structured partnership with common decision-making and administrative institutions' for the members of the European Free Trade Area (EFTA).48 The Swiss as members of EFT A began to negotiate a new status of partial membership. As State Secretary Franz Blankart, the Swiss negotiator, put it to me, they were hoping for European Union membership 'extra muros'49 because, it was generally believed, the 'sovereign' would say 'No' to direct membership.

When negotiations began, the EFTA members found it more difficult than they had anticipated. Delors got cold feet after the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989 and a unified Germany added to its weight in the European Union. It seemed more urgent to contain the German giant than to extend privileges to outsiders, which might weaken the containing wall. Brussels demanded that EFTA negotiate as a bloc and accept as a pre-condition the so-called acquis communautaire, around 11,000 pages of legislation derived from over 1,400 directives and regulations.50 The Swiss are not accustomed, as we have seen, to accepting legislation 'from above' and certainly not from abroad. The rights of the Swiss 'sovereign' to vote on every aspect of his or her life collided with the centralising traditions of French bureaucracy. The European Union said to EFTA: 'take it or leave it, but don't expect to haggle'. The promise of common decision-making and administrative institutions disappeared during the course of the negotiations and the EFTA partners began to divide. The European Union offered EFTA the so-called four freedoms -- free movement of goods, services, persons, and capital -- but at a high price. Sweden, Austria and ultimately Finland decided to join the European Union and Switzerland was left isolated and weakened. On 20 May 1992 Switzerland applied formally for membership of the European Union.51

The referendum set for 6 December 1992 on Switzerland's membership of the European Economic Area had been planned long before the Swiss application for full membership. The referendum on the issue took place under inauspicious circumstances. Many Swiss voters could not -- quite understandably -- separate the EEA from the EU and voted against the latter rather than the former. There was an exceptionally vigorous 'No' campaign and in the event the voters did, narrowly, say 'No' by a margin of 23,195 out of over three and a half million voters. Turnout at 78.3% was unusually high for Swiss referenda, but even more striking was the distribution of 'Yes' and 'No' votes. In French-speaking Switzerland more than 70% of the population voted 'Yes', while in the German part of the country 56% voted against.52

This division of sentiment frightened many Swiss. It called to mind those perilous moments in the Swiss past, which we recorded in the previous chapter, when German and French Swiss had divided on 'national' issues, taking the sides of Germany and France in the Franco-Prussian or the first world war. For a moment it looked as if the so-called Graben (trench) had once again divided the two groups. Subsequent and calmer analysis showed a more differentiated picture. In March 1993 the Federal Statistical Office published a study of voting in the 1992 referendum, carried out by the Forschungszentrum fur Politik of the University of Bern, which showed that the divisions ran just as sharply between city and country voters or between higher- and lower-income groups as between language communities. The urban middle classes voted for Europe while German- or Italian-speaking workers in the towns and peasants and lower middle classes in the Alpine areas tended to vote 'No'. Certainly French Switzerland was more solidly pro-European than German but language was only part of the story. After all, the half-cantons of Basel, both German-speaking, had also voted 'Yes'.53

The voters have continued to make things hard for their government. A striking case in point has been the series of measures on European issues, which the government has introduced to make Switzerland 'Euro-compatible' as a kind of half-way stage to membership. With the exception of the vote to accept Value Added Tax, 28 November 1993, which, with a 45.4% turnout, was accepted by a two-to-one majority, the citizenry has said 'No' to measures to make it easier for young resident foreigners to gain Swiss citizenship and 'No' in June 1995 to a measure to liberalise the 'Lex Friedrich', which limits the acquisition of Swiss property by foreigners. In addition, the last two years have seen the rise of a demagogic right, composed of the Zurich branch of the SVP under the businessman Christoph Blocher, the League of the Ticinese led by the former professional football player Giuliano Bignasca and the Swiss Democrats, all of whom say 'No' to Europe and 'No' to their own government.

Herr Blocher's style of politics may be assessed from the SVP electoral poster (Plate 11) which appeared in many Zurich newspapers (other than the Neue Zurcher Zeitung which refused to print it). Both the Nazi jackboot and the imputation that those who favour European Union membership are either left-wing or 'tired of the fatherland' made the other parties furious, but Blocher's tactics work. He hammered away at the 'sell-out' of the homeland, at the hordes of foreigners who would buy up the homes of honest Swiss folk and at the motives of those who wished to lift the restrictions. On 25 June 1995 the citizens rejected the amendment by 959,794 to 832,324 with a turnout of 39.6% of the vote. In sophisticated Zurich city, Blocher's forces mobilised 50,727 'No' voters to 40,813 'Yes' voters. Equally alarming was the regional split among the voters. Not one German-speaking canton voted for the liberalisation, whereas all the French-speaking cantons and the Italian-speaking Canton Ticino did.54

Max Frenkel, a senior editor of the Neue Zurcher Zeitung, took stock of the debacle:

Historians of the next generation will probably describe the conflicts of the 1990s as the battle between two virtual realities. For each side moves in its own world which has little to do with reality ... A part of the leading classes in this country in politics, the economy and the media are caught still in the illusion that it is all only a question of enlightening the people, 'anchoring' foreign policy in domestic politics and showing some leadership. The real challenge consists in taking seriously the ever shriller and sharper cry of those made uncertain by their anxieties.55

That diagnosis certainly commands respect but it evades what to an outsider seems the obvious clash of principle. Switzerland, as it now is, cannot accept an acquis communautaire, the command economy from Brussels or rule by higher civil servants, because the very essence of Swiss identity lies in self-determination from the bottom up. A top-down government confronts a bottom-up one and they are simply incompatible. The logic of the two approaches to government dictates that the Swiss either give up their national identity or stay out of the European Union.

The real world exists, of course, somewhere between these two poles. A less doctrinaire European Union may eventually be persuaded to tolerate Swiss eccentricities and to offer it an improved European Economic Area treaty but even there the question of the ultimate jurisdiction of the European Court in Luxemburg is not negotiable. The Swiss may have to swallow the presence of'foreign judges in our valleys' as the price of access to the European Union's privileges. For in the long run the Swiss cannot exist as an off-shore island in a European sea. They will not tolerate standing in queues for hours among the 'others', while their fellow Europeans enter EU countries without passport control, and all the other indignities that united Europe imposes on its visitors.

Yet if the choice comes to 'Yes' or 'No' the Swiss will, I think, continue to say 'No' to the European Union if it means the end of democratic rights and practices. Nor should those members of the elite groups who have grown impatient with direct democracy forget its importance as legitimation of their rule. In a fascinating study, the sociologists Marliss Buchmann and Stefan Sacchi have shown that Switzerland presents the following paradox: it has the greatest degree of inequality in income distribution in Europe but the least popular dissatisfaction with these inequalities:

We have explained this striking difference between perceived inequality and low level of conflict by looking at the political system in Switzerland and its tendency to relocate conflict. The system of direct democracy and the political culture support policies orientated towards compromise and prevent the articulation of conflict.56

Popular rights, in effect, support the system. They are not pieces

Plate ii SVP poster opposing the liberalisation of land acquisition in Switzerland by foreigners, 1995 of machinery that can be dismantled and stored in the junk yard of historical anachronisms. Direct democracy constitutes an essential element of Swiss self-definition and will not be surrendered without cost.

The instruments of semi-direct democracy also affect the role of parliament and the activities of political parties. In his fascinating study of political parties in Switzerland, Professor Erich Gruner argues that the referendum is responsible for one of the most striking peculiarities of Swiss parties, their lack of powerful central organisations:

The referendum conceals the solution to the puzzle. It permits the party strategists to get the masses of the people under way easily and quickly without the need for a great party apparatus nor a disciplined group of followers. This rapid mobilisation is only possible because the staff and workers - in contrast to the masses - do not fall back into lethargy. They keep party passions among the closed circle of prominent members cooking over a low flame. In this respect the Swiss party system is a just reflection of our militia system in the army.57

By using referenda and initiatives, a party can be in the odd position of being government and opposition at the same time. This practice has become particularly popular with the Socialist Party (SPS) since it tends to soothe the irritation of left-wingers who feel that the SPS ought not serve in bourgeois governments. The SVP practises the same double game when the leader of its Zurich party, Christoph Blocher, leads the anti-European opposition against the pro-European government in Bern which his fellow SVP member, Adolf Ogi, serves. The very frequent resort to referenda and initiatives, especially on dramatic issues, sucks much of the life out of parliamentary politics. If the great debate will be outside the walls anyway, why listen to what is said inside? If the parties spring to life on issues, the issues capture the public imagination and not the political parties themselves. A paradox emerges. The total politicisation of Swiss life leads to its opposite, a lifelessness in daily politics and indifference tait.

There are certainly reasons for the paleness of Swiss politics other than those which arise from direct democracy. The careers of a Blocher or a Duttweiler, the retailing eccentric who built both the Migros chain and his own political party to go with it, show that charismatic politics are indeed possible. One cause lies in multiplicity. There are twenty-six different political units, called cantons, and each has its own political party system. Frangois Masnata, who has studied the Social Democratic Party in Switzerland, undoubtedly the most centralised of all Swiss parties, concludes: 'Each cantonal party has the tendency to consider itself the whole and not as a part of an ensemble.'38 The party which appears in parliament tends to resemble a patchwork quilt rather than a seamless cloth. Since the cantonal party was itself a federation of local parties, the national party turns into a federation of federations. There is, secondly, the tendency to accumulate overlapping offices at various levels and on the same level across various interest groups. The alert member of a Swiss trade federation or craft union or employers' organisation will be well informed by central office as to the doings of 'his or her' representatives in cantonal and national parliaments; 'his or her' understood as the representative of an interest group. Since Article 32 of the Constitution makes it obligatory that 'the economic groups concerned shall be consulted during the drafting of the laws' the representative of the interests will get his or her say one way or the other. The work in committee, or even before the committee stage in the civil service commissions of 'experts', will be more useful, if less dramatic, than a speech in parliament.

No great careers are to be made in the English or American sense of the word" in a cantonal or national parliament. The rise of a Disraeli or an F. E. Smith, a Lyndon Johnson or a Daniel Webster, is not conceivable under the Swiss arrangements. There is no place for grand confrontations and fiery speeches. Proceedings in a Swiss parliament normally resemble a board meeting.

Another feature of Swiss politics at all levels is longevity. It is considered a great insult in most communes, cantons and federal authorities to fail to re-elect a member of an executive. On the level of Gemeinde this frequently means that the members stay on until they drop. The Swiss voters have to have unusual provocation to let a sitting member of the executive fall from grace. Periods of service in Gemeinde, canton and federal executive of ten or even twenty years are not unknown. The famous Professor Albert Gobat served as Regierungsrat (member of the executive) in Canton Bern for thirty years. It was, his junior colleague Karl Scheurer confided to his diary, a good omen that the executive 'was able to bear so difficult a colleague for so many years'.59 The long service produces an amiable but rather anonymous atmosphere at the centre of Swiss politics, especially on cantonal level.

The political virtues the Swiss prize most tend to be worthy and unexciting. Christopher Hughes argues that everywhere in Switzerland a predominance of Sachlichkeit, 'the executive frame of mind', 'the virtues of the good civil servant' are accorded too much prestige. 'The weakness of the practice of Sachlichkeit is that it assumes as best something which is in fact only second best, namely uncontroversial administration.'60 Sachlichkeit is a hard word to convey. 'Impartiality', 'objectivity', 'practicality' all catch a bit of the flavour which arises from the root of the word Sache, or 'thing'. Work is the key element in this quality. The good Swiss politician is earnest, high-minded, works a seven-day week and leaves his desk spick-and-span each night. Here too the virtue is real but not exciting.

Language is another problem for the Swiss politician of the German area. Debates in most cantonal parliaments and in the federal parliament tend to be in the 'written language', the Swiss version of High German. As Max Frisch's hero puts it in Mein Name sei Gantenbein: 'I decide that it's better to take on my role in High German. I always have a feeling of role-playing when I speak High German, and so fewer reservations.'61 Speaking High German tends to have a similar effect on politicians. They too adopt roles and employ a wooden, pompous idiom known as Grossratsdeutsch, the German of the Grand Council chamber.

A final element which makes Swiss politics on the national level less exciting than in many other European countries is the astonishing stability of voting patterns. Table 3.2 illustrates the point remarkably. Over the entire period since 1919, when proportional representation was introduced, the hallmark of Swiss politics has been great stability among the main parties. The Radicals/Liberals lost ground early in the period but since 1971 have achieved an almost unchanged share of the poll. The CVP has dropped slightly since 1971 and the Socialists lost a chunk of their electorate, almost certainly to the Greens, which they have not recovered.

On federal and cantonal level this stability has made possible what amounts to permanent deals to share power. Since 1959, the main parties on federal level have operated according to a 'magic formula' by which CVP (Christian), FDP (Radical) and SPS (Socialist) have two places and the SVP (People) one on the Federal Council (the Bundesrat) (Table 3.3). Since no significant shift of opinion has occurred in the general elections since that year, the fo'rmula works tolerably well.

The Bundesrat is quite unlike any other executive branch of government in the world, and Lowell quite rightly saw it as 'the most thoroughly native and original'62 of all federal institutions. Each Federal Councillor (Bundesrat) is head (Vorsteher or Chef du departement) of one of the seven main departments of state. They are all elected at the same time by each new parliament at its first session for a term of four years. Both houses -- Nationalrat and Standerat - vote together in the so-called Federal Assembly or Bundesversammlung and each seat is filled in turn; that is, seven separate elections are held on the same day. The members of the Bundesrat benefit from that unwillingness to turn out incumbents which we have already noted. In this, as in many other ways, they resemble the executive of a small commune or Gemeinde. Normally those members of the Bundesrat who wish to go on are allowed to do so, although there have been cases in which, as Professor Hughes points out, persons not likely to be re-elected have prudently chosen not to stand. 'The admirable use made of the power, which election by the assembly gives to party leaders and fellow Federal Councillors, to "take their colleague by the arm" and to call to mind the pleasures ofretirement, is a chief justification for parliamentary (rather than popular) election.'63 Occasionally, as in 1917 or 1953, a member of the Bundesrat will resign, and there have been other cases of premature retirement because of a defeat suffered either in the Assembly or in the public performance of duty.

Since neither the distribution of seats on the Federal Council among the parties, 'the magic formula', is likely to change nor are the actual incumbents in danger of defeat, the elections of members of the Bundesrat at the beginning of most four-year sessions of parliament have a certain formal quality, but they offer a discreet indication of how members of the two houses see each Federal Councillor. Since each must be re-elected in turn, attention focuses on the number of votes he or she gets. The Bundesversammlung, which elects the Federal Councillors, consists of the upper and lower houses voting together, so there are a total of 246 votes to be gained (200 lower house and 46 upper house). A result under 150 comes as near as anything can in Swiss parliamentary practice to a vote of no confidence. Insiders and incumbents note carefully whose stock has risen and whose fallen over the four years since the last election to the Federal Council.

One of the members of the Bundesrat is elected president and one vice-president of the Bundesrat at the same election at which they all stand for re-election. The president of the Bundesrat is also president of Switzerland. The term of office is one year and rotates among the members. A long-serving Bundesrat like Philipp Etter (1935-59) may well be able to serve often as president of Switzerland. New Bundesrdte wait their turn until all their seniors have filled the office of president but, aside from that, the office moves in strict annual rotation. The powers of the presidency are not great and mainly consist of the chairmanship of the Bundesrat and ceremonial functions as head of state. It would be wrong to underestimate the office in spite of this. Its incumbent has general oversight over government as well as a few special emergency powers; in troubled times he or she can make a difference. Initially the presidency was tied to the Political Department, so that Switzerland effectively suffered a new foreign secretary every year. Under the forceful Numa Droz, the Political Department was separated from the presidency in the years 1887 to 1894 and after several decades of disagreement the 'systeme Droz' was made permanent.64 In the modern Bundesrat it is not unusual to have a person serve as head of one department of state during his or her entire tenure.

The Bundesrat is not a cabinet in the British sense. The 'government' cannot 'fall' if its measures are rejected by the parliament. According to Article 97, 'members of the Bundesrat while in office may hold no other official position either in the service of the Confederation or of a Canton, nor may they follow any other career or exercise any other profession'. Unlike the British cabinet minister, they may not be members of either house of the legislature, and in this sense resemble the position of members of the American 'administration' who may not sit in Congress. Unlike the US president, they may and in fact usually do take part in debates in parliament and have the right to speak and to introduce resolutions. Chairs are set aside in the Nationalrat chamber for members of the Bundesrat to use as they choose. Normally the head of the department in whose bailiwick some legislation falls attends as a matter of course, but he or she speaks for the entire Bundesrat rather than for himself or herself. Custom asserts that the Bundesrat has one voice and one opinion.

If the Bundesrat is not precisely a cabinet, it is also not exactly an 'administration' either. Certainly the Bundesrat has some of the aura of the president of the USA. The Bern press corps rises respectfully when a Bundesrat enters the room and hard, direct questions are rarely put. Frequently, as one very senior political correspondent told me, the press knows exactly where each of the members stands on an issue but well established custom forbids them to use such knowledge. The notion of a collective identity has never been entirely plausible. There have always been members of the Federal Council who stood out by sheer force of personality, men like Motta, Hoffmann, Pilet-Golaz or Minger. Yet even such 'strong' Federal Councillors cannot direct Swiss politics the way a 'strong' German chancellor or British prime minister can. There are several reasons for this. The first is that nobody controls a Swiss cabinet. Federal Councillor Otto Stich explained to me that, as finance minister in a 'magic formula' cabinet, he has no prime minister to lean on, no parliamentary majority behind him, indeed, no political leverage of any kind. He cannot impose a tight budget on recalcitrant colleagues. Everything must be negotiated within a collective body, which in turn accepts collective, executive responsibility towards parliament. Of course, the other councillors are in the same position with regard to him. Each must read the other's position papers and all must arrive at a consensus before each can act. The executive is a collective of persons of different parties, but united in responsibility.65

Federal Councillors have an ambivalent relationship to their parties. A member of the Federal Council is not the leader of his or her party in either house nor, as Federal Councillor Flavio Cotti pointed out in an interview he granted me, can he or she be said to represent a canton or linguistic community. He or she retains full party membership, linguistic and cantonal identity, the right, indeed duty, to attend parliamentary party meetings and conventions, but cannot act as party spokesperson. A Federal Councillor may often end up having to represent policies which his or her party opposes. As Signor Cotti said to me, when he was president of the CVP he used to think: 'how unfortunate that the party president is not the Federal Councillor. Now I think how fortunate that he is not.'66

The relationship between Federal Councillor and party becomes even more strained when the elected councillor has not been the party's first choice. Since the Federal Assembly votes by secret ballot, it can and often does reject a party candidate for another, 'more moderate' representative, of course, from the same party. (To do anything more provocative would threaten the fragile 'magic formula'.) In 1973 the 'official' candidates of the Socialists, Christian Democrats and Radicals all fell to 'unofficial' candidates. Herr Stich himself was not the Socialist Party's first choice, which does not seem to disturb him all that much. A dramatic recent case followed the resignation of Rene Felber in January 1993. The seat 'belonged' to the Socialists and nobody contested that nor that the new Federal Councillor had to be French-speaking, preferably from a canton which had not been represented for some time. The SPS chose Christiane Brunner, a lively trade unionist from Geneva, a feminist, an opponent of the army in the 1989 referendum and the child of a dysfunctional family. Her sentiments had been formed in the 1960s but even the conservative Neue Zilrcher Zeitung gave her good marks for belonging to the 'pragmatic, consensus-orientated' branch of Social Democracy.67 When the Federal Assembly met on 3 March 1993, the grumbling about Christiane Brunner's 'lack of style and format' (code for class and feminism) had leaked to the public, and there were women's demonstrations when the Assembly elected Frangois Matthey of Neuchatel, the SPS's second choice. Matthey eventually stood down in favour of Ruth Dreifuss, a German-Swiss but long enough resident in Geneva to square the magic formula's circles.68

There must be losers in any electoral system and with only seven seats on the Federal Council, not all national, linguistic, religious, gender, or political features can be satisfactorily represented. Some cantons have never 'had' a Federal Councillor and others only infrequently. There is still only one woman out of seven Federal Councillors. A more fundamental objection is that the elections distort the will of the parties and eliminate candidates with sharp profiles and hence leadership qualities. After a similar, though less dramatic, upheaval in 1966, Nationalrat Breitenmoser (CVP, Basel-Stadt) observed: 'Federal Council elections are rather like games of chance based on the formula: at the right moment Find the right man with the right language from the right canton. The one elected is a very lucky fellow.' Perhaps there ought to be more Federal Councillors, more than one permitted from a given canton or no consideration given to commune of origin (Biirgerort). Certainly one or all of those alterations would loosen the automatic couplings by which candidates seem to drop into or through the right slots. Another, even more fundamental alteration would be direct popular election of Federal Councillors by the citizens. Good precedents exist for electing the executive directly; most cantons have direct elections of members of the Executive Council (Regierungsrat). All of these devices would make the election of Federal Councillors less like a pinball machine through which candidates drop on to the right or wrong cushions, but it would not resolve the much deeper malaise about the institution itself. Seven diligent honourable people do not constitute a political as opposed to an administrative focus. A president by rotation reduces the chance of genuine national leadership. In his novel about Swiss politics, Giovanni Orelli likens presidential orations on festive occasions to frozen food. The citizenry eats lunch while the president alone is talking. In fact his patriotic sentiments 'have been stored for a week in a cupboard, in a sort of strongroom, cut on to tape before being served: just like a dish which looks as if it had been cooked to order but has really been waiting there for weeks or months in the storerooms and refrigerators of the big stores'.69 Perhaps the Swiss can confront the turbulence of the 1990s and the new millennium with the traditional pieties, now wrapped in cellophane and stored on tape, but there are those who doubt it.

In the first place doubts have grown about the very institution itself. In 1896 A. Lawrence Lowell noted that members of the Federal Council were 'decidedly overworked and at this very moment plans are being discussed for relieving them of a part of their labours'.70 Not much came of those plans and a century later the problem has worsened. The various Swiss departments now contain ranges of incompatible agencies, doing things which in other executive systems would have a minister or junior minister to represent them. Take the case of the federal Departement des Innern; the Federal Councillor who heads this ministry of the interior is responsible for culture, environment, the meteorological services, health, statistics, social security, sport, science and technology, the federal office buildings, military insurance and the national archives. If the Western European Union has a meeting of ministers of health in Strasbourg, while what is left of EFTA has convened an informal meeting of ministers of environment in Oslo, and the ministers of social security of the European Union have convened in Paris and invited Switzerland to attend as an observer, what does the minister do? There is nobody of ministerial rank to replace him or her. Only the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Economics have a kind of deputy minister, holding the rank of'state secretary'. The rest have literally nobody.

In the early 1990s, the Federal Council proposed a new government and administrative reorganisation law which has been making its torpid way through the committees of both houses. Discussion has focussed on the terms of a proposal to appoint state secretaries as deputy ministers and place between ten and twenty-one such persons in the major ministries as department chiefs. Yet if they are appointed by the Federal Council and not elected by the Federal Assembly, they will lack political legitimation in a country which considers it right to elect everybody from the highest state officer to the Brunnenmeister of Makers. 'State Secretaries' have an alien, Germanic ring to them and belong, together with honorific titles and deferential behaviour, outside the 'Swiss way of doing things'. The 'sovereign' in its present mood may well reject the final legislation, even if both houses eventually agree on the number of state secretaries, their duties and the mode of election or appointment.

The difficulty with the Federal Council goes well beyond matters of organisation. A 'magic formula' guarantees that there will be compromise and consent but it also ensures that action will be slow and frequently hesitant. The behaviour of the Federal Council in the last decade has not been as coherent, decisive or focussed as many might wish. A recent survey showed that the public had almost no confidence in their government. Whereas in 1979 16% of those interviewed had 'absolute' confidence in their government and 45% had 'reasonable' confidence, a similar survey in 1995 showed that only 2% had 'absolute' and 26% 'reasonable' confidence in their institutions.71 The gap between 'above' and 'below' has been exploited by the fringe parties of the right. The Federal Council has become 'elitist' in the demonology of such groups. Yet nothing could be more homely and unpretentious than the entourage or office arrangements of a Swiss ministry. The halls of Bundeshaus Ost and Bundeshaus West or the Finance Ministry date from the bombastic period of nineteenth-century public monuments but the Federal Councillors and their staffs, from senior civil servants to the porters downstairs, have the relaxed and easy reaction to the intruding public of genuine democrats. If small is beautiful, the Swiss have beautiful government.

The dissatisfaction has not arisen because Swiss Federal Councillors or parliamentarians have assumed imperial grandeur, but because they have assumed too little. I asked Bundesrat Otto Stich, until August 1995 Federal Minister of Finance, what he proposed to do to get the people to accept the introduction of Value Added Tax, an essential element in his financial reform package. He smiled and said 'Nichts!' It would be counterproductive, he believed, if members of the Federal Council campaigned for measures.72 Yet if the Federal Council will not take to the soap-box and defend its programme, the box will be used by the anti-Bern, anti-Brussels demagogues.

Nor is it just the Federal Council that seems to be creaking under the strain of domestic and foreign demands on it. Modern Swiss government has rested for the past century and a half on the principle of'militia service'. Just as the citizen served in the army, so he or she served in the legislature or executive of the commune, canton or federal government. But now the tasks of government have grown so alarmingly that the citizen-parliamentarian either turns professional or becomes increasingly ineffective. Over the past twenty years more and more cantonal executives have become full time and the per diem payments to parliamentarians have gone up. Here too professionalisation increases competence and specialisation but also widens the gap between citizens and their representatives, between 'them' and 'us'.

In one crucial respect Swiss government has become more representative in the last few decades: representation of women. The move to enfranchise women began after the first world war and by 1959 twenty-four cantonal referenda giving women the vote had been lost. Then in a very Swiss way things gradually changed. Just as in the 1860s the cantons slowly accepted referenda and initiatives before the federal government did, so in the 1960s many of the cantons moved to enfranchise women. On 7 February 1971 women gained the vote on federal level, and on 14June 1981 a constitutional amendment was approved by the people, which has become paragraph 2 of Article 4:

Men and women have equal rights. The law provides for equal treatment in family, training and work. Men and women have equal rights to equal pay for equal work.

Formally, women in Switzerland now enjoy better legal status than they do in the United States where the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) has not been passed by the states. The cantons still lead the Swiss federal government in female participation. Whereas the Nationalrat has thirty-five women out of two hundred members (17.5%), cantons like Geneva and Solothurn have more than double that percentage of female members in their parliaments.73 The city parliament of Bern recently passed an ordinance requiring that there be no fewer than thirty-two female deputies out of a total of eighty, the first city in Europe to introduce a gender quota. It would work like this: because the city of Bern elects its city representatives by proportional representation, when there is a vacancy, the next person on a party's list simply steps forward to fill it. The city parliament has decreed that, if a vacancy occurs when there are not enough women among the members, the selection procedure will skip male candidates, no matter how high on the list of those not quite elected they were. The liberal Neue Zurcher Zeitung was appalled:

In elections the sovereign should really choose and not simply fill up some pre-fabricated rump of a structure. In any case it is in the hands of the voters to redress any imbalance among the sexes.
The voters agreed and turned down the proposal by more than two to one.74 So far Swiss voters have not done badly in redressing the imbalance -- about as well as most northern European states -- but not brilliantly either. Swiss women occupy places in political life, especially on communal and cantonal level, but are still under-represented in industry, the big banks and chemical companies. Left-wing parties and organisations have made greater efforts to represent women than centre and right-wing groups. It is characteristic that the Bernese city parliament which tried to introduce the quota system had a 'red-green' coalition government.

Women may be under-represented but foreigners are not represented at all. Switzerland has the second highest ratio of foreign to native residents of any country in Europe (Luxemburg has the highest). According to the official census figures in 1993, there were 1,318,265 foreigners out of a resident population of 6,988,858 or 18.8%, a percentage which has been creeping up steadily over the last ten years.75 The majority of these foreigners were either born in Switzerland (22.1%) or have lived there for more than five years (50.4%). In the work place foreigners make up 27% of all gainfully employed persons, although, as one would expect, unemployment among foreign workers is more than twice as high as for. Swiss nationals. On the other hand the second generation of'foreigners' has done much better than the first in achieving professional, trade or other qualifications.76 Compared to the large number of foreigners in Switzerland, the numbers who acquire Swiss citizenship is tiny. The official figures show the following numbers of new Swiss citizens: 1988 - 6,689; 1989 - 6,863; 1990 - 5,497; 1991- 5,346; 1992 - 9,830; 1993 - 11,920.77 Even with the slightly easier provisions of the 1992 legislation, the number of foreigners gaining full citizenship rights remains well under 1%. It is not unfair to say that Switzerland has a large, increasingly well educated, underclass.

(Swiss prosperity rests on foreign labour^The post-war boom sucked in hundreds of thousands of aliens and the Swiss government controlled them by limiting their status. Four types of foreigners were admitted - those with residence permits, those with seasonal permits (who were subject to a variety of restrictions on movement, choice of job, family status and time allowed in Switzerland), those with annual permits and the Grenzganger, Frontaliers and Frontalieri, people who work in Switzerland but go home to Germany, France or Italy at night. In 1993 there were 921,982 foreigners with permanent residence, 315,229 with annual permits, 50,016 with seasonal permits and 160,087 frontier-crossers.78

In the 1950s and 1960s when the hordes of poor Italian, Yugoslav and Spanish workers first arrived, the governments in Bern and the cantons complacently assumed that, if a depression put an end to rapid growth, the foreigners would go home. After the crash of 1973 it became clear that they would not.

The reaction was predictable. Some native Swiss felt threatened, swamped by the flood of aliens. They used the term Uberfremdung, inelegantly rendered as 'over-foreignisation', to describe a complex of defensive and anxious attitudes. Between 1965 and 1988 some Swiss right-wing parties decided to use the traditional Swiss weapon, the ballot-box, to solve the problem of foreigners. In June 1965 the Democratic Party of Canton Zurich proposed an initiative to limit the number of foreigners to 10% of the resident population. In the following twenty years the Nationale Aktion, the Republican Party and other right-wing organisations tried either to set quotas on foreigners or to tax employers who engaged foreign labour. The voters rejected such proposals on every occasion, the last of which took place on 4 December 1988.79 On the other hand, the voters also rejected in 1994 a referendum which would have made it easier for young foreigners between the ages of 15 and 25 who had spent five years in Swiss schools to become citizens by an accelerated (and cheaper) procedure. The popular vote went 52.9% to 47.1% in favour of liberalisation but the vote by canton revealed that thirteen had voted 'No'. As in much recent Swiss politics, the 'sovereign' voters split into French v. German, rural v. urban. The Neue Ziircher Zeitung noted sadly that

once again the vote showed how little in these matters the views of parliament, the large parties and organisations can predict the behaviour of the voters. One ought to add that the political leaders and party members did all too little for an enterprise that they must have known would not be automatically accepted.80

The result of these contradictory voting attitudes -- 'No' to attempts to limit the numbers of foreign workers and 'No' to initiatives to improve their status - reflects deep contradictions in contemporary Swiss life. The Swiss know they need the foreign workers but a great many refuse to consider integrating them. These reactions have grown as the number of non-European immigrants grows. Between the mid-1980s and the mid-1990s the number of Asian and African foreigners in Switzerland doubled. As brown and black faces appear on the streets of Luzern and Bern, there is nostalgia for the simpler days when the poor were, after all, 'European'.

The division in attitudes to foreign workers corresponds exactly to the divisions on European integration, on Swiss participation in UN 'blue beret' operations and on liberalisation of land sales. In the face of such divisions, the Federal Council and cantonal executives hesitate and, in hesitating, are lost. The authorities have seen the 'absolute' confidence they once enjoyed erode over the past few years. Their hesitancy or inaction in crucial votes merely reduces what remains. None of this makes Switzerland more 'Euro-compatible' nor eases the lot of those poor Swiss diplomats who try to negotiate bilateral agreements with Brussels. The repeated pattern of 'Yes' to a more European-orientated Switzerland in the French-speaking regions and 'No' in German-speaking regions deepens the Graben and makes many Swiss wonder about the survival of the Confederation.

The European Union has become a 'threat' across the range of Swiss political life. Its councils, commissions, directories and boards, its regular meetings, the mountains of paper it produces and its centralised dirigiste bureaucracy place the homely, semi-professional, Swiss structures under great strain. The Federal Council has to act and be seen to be acting but it lacks, by its very collegial nature, leadership and direction. Parliament operates by 'magic formulae', conciliation and 'concordance'. The system shuns conflict and hence very unwillingly takes hard decisions, and never quickly. Then the voters or, more accurately, the cantons say 'No'. Switzerland seems to go nowhere, its system turns on heavy slow wheels which somehow never quite engage.

In this chapter, we have seen the 'Swiss way of doing things' in its political aspect and observed the set of'do's' and 'don'ts' at work on communal level and in Bern. You don't force people out of office and you accept the vagaries of proportional representation. Everything is 'political' but the citizens understand that political activity must be tempered by fairness. The Swiss live in a world conditioned by historic continuities, some very ancient indeed. 'It has always been so' serves as a good justification for trying to keep it so in the future. Most of this is wholly unreflective, simply assumed as part of the texture of daily life. That self-evident assumption of continuity has been undermined by the transformation of Europe. Nobody in Switzerland can fail to see the signs of inadequacy in the political structures on all three levels of government, in the behaviour and apathy of much of the citizenry, in the disorder and confusion in parties and parliament and in the demagogic noises coming from the right-wing extremes.

If Switzerland were a multi-national state like Yugoslavia, one could imagine a terminal crisis in which the linguistic groups split. If it were, as many Swiss imagine, a fragile structure which must be 'willed' - the cliche is eine Willensnation — the uncertainty of political will which we have observed might be another sign of terminal crisis. Switzerland is, I believe, neither of these things butl,an ancient, historic entity which happened to escape the centralisation of the modern era. It is a bit of the old Holy Roman Empire which survived the rise and fall of the centralised modern stated Switzerland is still intact long after the totalitarian dictators with their centralised and unified states have strutted off the stage. Beneath the political crises and inadequacies there are levels of Swiss consciousness which bind and control behaviour in subtle ways. Swiss identity has much deeper and stronger roots than many Swiss imagine. One of these powerful roots is attitude to language, and that is the subject of the next chapter.


1 Interview with Dr Albert Bodmer, former Vice-Chairman, Ciba-Geigy AG, Basel, 4 April 1991.

2 Clive H. Church, 'Where is Switzerland? Explaining the position of a small country in post-Maastricht Europe', School of European and Modern Language Studies, University of Kent, Occasional Paper No. 5, 1994, p. 17.

3 Christopher Hughes, The Parliament of Switzerland (London, 1962),

4 For a neat and clear description of how referenda work, Rene Rhinow and Annemarie Huber-Hotz, 'Die Zukunft des schweizerischen politischen Systems', in Blickpunkt Schweiz. 27 Ansichten, eds. Kurt R. Spillmann and Rolf Kieser with Thomas Koppel (Zurich, 1995), pp. 53 ff. In a survey the Neue Zurcher Zeitung (abbreviated hereafter as NZZ) calculated that since its introduction in 1874 the optional or fakultativ referendum has never rejected more than seven bills per decade and is not now used more often than in the past. What has changed is the number of obligatory referenda (constitutional changes) and initiatives; cf. NZZ, 'Vertrauen in den misstrauischen Burger', igjanuary 1991, p. 23.

5 Statistical Data on Switzerland, Swiss Federal Statistical office (Bern, 1991), Table 1, p. 2 and Table 4, p. 7. Also interview with Dr Hans Windlin, Landschreiber des Kantons Zug, Zug, 5 April 1991.

6 Verfassung, Gemeinde- und Wahlgesetz, Herausgegeben von der Staats-kanzlei des Kantons Zug, 1985.

7 After the elections of 1994 the eighty were divided among the parties as follows (1990 results in brackets): Christian Democratic People's Party (CVP) 33 (36), Radical Party (FDP) 28 (25), Socialist Party of Switzerland (SPS) 9 (11), Swiss People's Party (SVP) 3 (o), Socialist-Green Alternative 3 (4), FB (Fresh Breeze) 2 (2), G 3 (Track 3) 1 (1), Critical List/Forum Oberageri 1 (o), Colourful List o (1): source, Staatskanzlei des Kantons Zug. Cf. 'Linkrutsch bei den Zuger Wahlen', A^ZZ, 13 November 1990, p. 21.

8 'Gesetz iiber die Organisation und die Verwaltung der Gemeinden (Gemeindegesetz) (vom 4. September 1980)', in Verfassung. Gemeinde-und Wahlgesetz, p. no.

9 Statistisches Jahrbuch der Schweiz 1995 (Bern, 1995), Table 18.1, p. 383.

10 Interview with Gemeindeschreiber Herr Josef Geisseler, Makers, 2 June 1995.

11 Interview with Landschreiber Dr Hans Windlin, Zug, 5 April 1991.

12 Statistisches Jahrbuch der Schweiz 1995, Table 1.3, p. 26.

13 Ibid., Section 17.5.5, pp. 378-9.

14 Anita von Arx-Fischler, 'Der Grosse Rat von Luzern', in Paul Stadlin, ed., Les Parlernents des cantons suisses (Zug, 1990), p. 256; 'Die SVP als Gewinnerin der Luzerner Wahlen', VVZZ, 3 April 1995, p. 19. The CVP had 85 seats in 1987,80 in 1991 and 73 in 1995, whereas the Liberals had 56 (1987), 57 (i99i) and 51 (1995).

15 Information from Herr dipl. arch. Benno Baumeler, Entlebuch, 8June 1995.

16 Amtliches Ergebnis der Volksabstimmung, Gemeinde Makers, 6 December 1992 and 'Resultate der Grossrats- und Regierungs-wahlen vom 2. April, 1995', Matters Informiert, Gemeinde Makers, No. 76/4, 1995, p. 15.

17 Rechnung und Verwaltungsbericht 1994, Stadt Grenchen, Approved 22 June 1995, p. 4; Rechnung 1994, Gemeinde Makers, 1995, p. 4.

18 Grenchen (Grenchen, 1992), p. 9; interview with Stadtschreiber Herr Rolf Enggist, 16 June 1995.

19 Gemeindeordnung, Stadt Grenchen, Ausgabe Februar 1993, Para. 36, p. 12, and interviews with Herrn Enggist and Geisseler.

20 Jiirg Haefelin, 'Wie Zurich zur Grossstadt wurde. Der Weg zur Stadtvereinigung vom i.Januar, 1893', NZZ, 31 December 1992, p. 33 and Statistisches Jahrbuch der Schweiz 1995, Table 1.8, p. 31.

21 'Die stadtische Rechnung 1993', NZZ, 24june 1994, p. 35; 'Rote Zahlen und sechsmal ein "blaues Auge" Knapp akzeptable Ostschweizer Kantonsbudgets', NZZ, 31 December 1992, p. 23.

22 'Pro Sitz 11.9 Bewerberinnen und Bewerber. Immer mehr Frauen kandidieren fur den Ziircher Gemeinderat', NZZ, 15 January 1994, p. 37; 'Statistische Ubersicht zu den Ziircher Wahlen', 'Wahlbeteiligung bei den Gemeinderatswahlen 1928-1994', NZZ, 8 March 1994, p. 32.

23 'Arthur Gilgen - Politiker mit unverwechselbaren Profil', NZZ, 6 May 1995 p. 31.

24 Alfred Gattani, 'Erinnerung an Emil Landholt', NZZ, 21 April 1995, p. 32.

25 Interview with Landschreiber Dr Hans Windlin, Zug, 5 April 1995.

26 Adolf Gasser, Der Jura im Kanton Bern (Basel, n.d.), p. 7.

27 Ibid., p. 31.

28 Bernard Prongue, Nouvelles composantes de I'identite jurassienne 1914-1989, Programme national de recherche 21 (Basel, 1991), p. 8; Jean-Claude Montavon, 'Le Parlement jurassien', in Paul Stadlin, Les Parlements des cantons suisses (Zug, 1990), pp. 459-60; Kurt Miiller, 'Der lange Weg zum Selbstbestimmungsrecht. Zwanzigjahre nach dem 23.Juni 1974', NZZ, 24june 1994, p. 29.

29 Benjamin Barber, The Death of Communal Liberty. A History of Freedom in a Swiss Mountain Canton (Princeton, N.J., 1973), pp. 173—4.

30 Ibid., p. 176.

31 Georg Kreis, Der Weg zur Gegenwart. Die Schweiz im neunzehnten Jahrhundert (Basel, Boston and Stuttgart, 1986), p. 150.

32 Ibid., p. 159.

33 Daniel Bruhlmeier, Aufdem Weg zu einer verfassten nationalen Identitdt, Nationales Forschungsprogramm 21 (Basel, 1991), p. 15.

34 Wolf Linder, 'Die Zukunft der schweizerischen Demokratie', in Die Schweiz; Aufbruch aus der Verspatung (Zurich, 1991), p. 25.

35 Ibid., p. 26.

36 Reform der Bundesverfassung. Mitlesen, Mitdenken, Mitreden (Bern, 1995), p. 9.

37 Ibid., p. n.

38 Ibid., p. 15.

39 Verfassung, Gemeinde- und Wahlgesetz, Staatskanzlei des Kantons Zug. I am grateful to Landschreiber Dr Hans Windlin of Canton Zug for checking the labels in Figure 1.

40 Urs Altermatt, Fundamentalistische Strbmungen in den neuen Oppositions-bewegungen 1965-1985, Nationales Forschungsprogramm 21 (Basel, 1991) p. 17.

41 A. Lawrence Lowell, Governments and Parties in Continental Europe, 2 vols. (Cambridge, Mass., 1896), Vol. n, pp. 291-2.

42 Denis de Rougemont, La Suisse ou l'histoire d'un peuple heureux (Paris, 1965), p. 125.

43 Figures from Statistisches Jahrbuch der Schweiz 1995, PP- 374~5, Table 17.10, 'Eidgenossische Volksabstimmungen seit 1993'. Cf. Jean Meynaud, La Democratie semi-directe en Suisse (Lausanne, 1970), p. 14; Max Imboden, Helvetisches Malaise (Zurich, 1964), p. 7.

44 Rene Rhinow and Annemarie Huber-Hotz, 'Die Zukunft des schweizerischen politischen Systems', p. 55.

45 Ibid. p. 44.

46 Jurg Steiner, Erwin Bucher, Daniel Frei and Leo Schiirmann, Das politische System der Schweiz (Munich, 1971), pp. 146-7.

47 Georg Kreis, 'Die Illusion einer Revision des Staatsvertrags-referendums', NZZ, 10 July 1995, p. 13.

48 Sophie de Skowronski, 'Switzerland and the European Community; the EEA Referendum of 1992' (Cambridge University, M.Phil. Dissertation, 1994), p. 20.

49 Interview with Staatssekretar Franz Blankart, Bundesamt fur Aussen-wirtschaft, Bern, 11 April 1991.

50 Sophie de Skowronski, 'Switzerland', p. 21.

51 'Die Schweiz stellt EG Beitrittsgesuch' and 'Kein Schicksal sondern Chance. Der Bundesrat zur europaischen Zukunft der Schweiz', NZZ, 20 May 1992, p. 27 and 22 May 1992, p. 29.

52 VOX, Analyse de la votation federate du 6 decembre 1992, GfS, Publication No. 47, February 1993.

53 Ibid., ch. 4, 'Le Profil du vote', pp. 31-41; 'Mehrere Graben in der Europapolitik'^ZZ, 28 February 1993, p. 26.

54 'Die Ergebnisse der eidgenossischen Abstimmung' and 'Die Ergebnisse der eidgenossischen Abstimmung in Stadt und Kanton Zurich', NZZ, 26 June 1995, p. 12.

55 Max Frenkel, 'Ein Nein, das Konsequenzen haben muss', ibid., p. n.

56 Marliss Buchmann and Stefan Sacchi, 'Lebensstandard in der Schweiz', Blickpunkt Schweiz, p. 204.

57 Erich Gruner, Die Parteien in der Schweiz (Bern, 1969), p. 29.

58 Frangois Masnata, Le Parti socialiste et la tradition democratique en Suisse (Neuchatel, 1963), p. 244.

59 Bundesrat Karl Scheurer, Tagebucher 1914-1929, ed. Hermann Boschenstein (Bern, 1971), p. 42.

60 Christopher Hughes, The Parliament, p. 98.

61 Max Frisch, Mein Name sei Gantenbein (Frankfurt, 1964), p. 36.

62 A. Lawrence Lowell, Governments and Parties, Vol. 11, p. 193.

63 Christopher Hughes, The Parliament, p. 80.

64 Documents diplomatiques suisses, Vol. iv, 1.1.1890-31.12/1903, eds. Yves Collart, Marco Durer, Verdiana Grossi, Martin Ludi and Ronald Dreyer (Bern, 1994). Switzerland hardly seemed to need a separate 'Departement des affaires etrangeres' and, in fact, until 1887 had not had one. True democrats distrust the fancy manners and aristocratic pretensions of diplomats and hence Swiss politicians found the so-called 'systeme Droz' deeply unnatural. Numa Droz, an authoritarian Federal Councillor, had invented the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs and placed himself at its head from 1887 to 1892. His retirement gave the Federal Council a chance to consider the place of professional diplomacy in democratic Switzerland. Among the most interesting of the documents reproduced in this volume is the lengthy protocol of the debate on 8 February 1894 in which the Federal Council actually decided to abolish the ministry and return to a system by which the Federal President during his one-year term acted as foreign secretary. As Federal Councillor Schenk put it, 'diplomacy does not need to be so developed among us . . . if things go on as they are, we shall soon have a staff of officials demanding to be used, especially in the consular service' (Doc. No. 128, p. 284).

65 Interview with Bundesrat Otto Stich, Bern, 12 April 1991.

66 Interview with Consigliere federale Flavio Cotti, 12 April 1991.

67 'Ersatz Wahl in den Bundesrat als Hauptattraktion', NZZ, 28 February 1993, p. 25.

68 'Bundesratswahl mit offenem Result', ibid., 5 March 1993; ibid., 13 March 1995, p. 29.

69 Giovanni Orelli, La Festa del Ringraziamento (Milan, 1972), p. 62.

70 A. Lawrence Lowell, Governments and Parties, Vol. 11, p. 205.

71 'Weniger vertrauen zu Behorden', NZZ, 6 June 1995, p. 13.

72 Interview with Bundesrat Otto Stich, Bern, 12 April 1991.

73 Statistisckes Jahrbuch der Schweiz 1995, Figure 17.2 and Table 17.9, pp. 372-3.

74 'Chancengleichheit statt gesetzliche Hilfen', NZZ, 28 July 1995, p. 23; 'Keine Frauenquote in Berner Stadtparlament', NZZ, 11 September 1995, p. 13.

75 Statistisckes Jahrbuch der Schweiz 1995, Table 1.8, p. 31.

76 Werner Haug, 'Wachsende Vielfalt - Wege zur Integration. Auslander und Auslanderinen - Zahlen und Fakten', NZZ, 29 June 1995. p. 27.

77 Statistisckes Jahrbuch der Schweiz 1995, Table 1.26, p. 52.

78 Ibid., Table 1.27, p. 53.

79 Rolf Weibel, Schweizer Katholizismus heute: Strukturen, Aufgaben, Organisationen der romisch-katholischen Kirche (Zurich, 1989), pp. 62-3.

80 'Stande-Schranken fur "Schweizer" Auslander', NZZ, 14 June 1994, p. 23.