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Dynamic De/Centralization in Switzerland, 1848-2010

Dardanelli, Paolo, Mueller, Sean (2019) Dynamic De/Centralization in Switzerland, 1848-2010. Publius: The Journal of Federalism, 49 (1). pp. 138-165. ISSN 0048-5950. E-ISSN 1747-7107. (doi:10.1093/publius/pjx056) (KAR id:63678)

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Part of the project Why Centralization and Decentralization in Federations?, this article studies

dynamic de/centralization in Switzerland since 1848 and seeks to account for the patterns

observed. It shows that, overall, there has been a wide-ranging process of legislative

centralization, whereas the cantons have retained considerable administrative and, especially,

fiscal autonomy. The principal instrument of dynamic centralization has been constitutional

change, followed by the enactment of framework legislation by the federal government. The

process has unfolded primarily through frequent steps of a small magnitude and occurred

throughout the 160-year life of the federation. Modernization, market integration, changing

patterns of collective identification, and expectations concerning the role of government appear

to have played a particularly important causal role. The multilingual and bi-confessional nature of

the country has not presented a major obstacle to this centralization dynamic, particularly since

World War II, with the French-speaking minority becoming increasingly pro-centralization.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1093/publius/pjx056
Projects: Why Centralisation and Decentralisation in Federations?
Subjects: J Political Science
J Political Science > JN Political institutions and public administration (Europe)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Funders: Swiss National Science Foundation (
Leverhulme Trust (
Depositing User: Paolo Dardanelli
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2017 14:09 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2022 10:41 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Dardanelli, Paolo:
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