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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)


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: [UNSPECIFIED] Why Centralisation and Decentralisation in Federations?
Subjects: J Political Science
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Paolo Dardanelli
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2017 14:09 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 19:36 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Dardanelli, Paolo:
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