Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

Vertical Influence or Horizontal Coordination? The Purpose of Intergovernmental Councils in Switzerland

Schnabel, Johanna, Mueller, Sean (2017) Vertical Influence or Horizontal Coordination? The Purpose of Intergovernmental Councils in Switzerland. Regional & Federal Studies, 27 (5). pp. 549-572. ISSN 1359-7566. E-ISSN 1743-9434. (doi:10.1080/13597566.2017.1368017) (KAR id:75271)


In 1993, the Swiss cantons established the conference of cantonal governments (KdK). While the literature on Swiss federalism generally acknowledges the important role of the KdK, little is known about its specific purpose, in particular compared to other, older intergovernmental councils operating in Switzerland. We therefore investigate the purpose of the KdK and contrast it with two other intercantonal conferences with nationwide scope, namely those on education and finance. To do so, we trace two of the most important federal reform processes of the last decade: the latest renewal of fiscal equalization and educational harmonization. We find a division of labour between the KdK and policy-specific councils. While the former aims at vertical political influence, the latter primarily engage in genuine horizontal policy coordination. This flexible and smooth interplay of the two types of councils has contributed to further strengthening the political role of the cantons in the Swiss federation.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/13597566.2017.1368017
Uncontrolled keywords: Switzerland, federalism, intergovernmental councils, conference of cantonal governments, intergovernmental relations
Subjects: J Political Science
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Funders: Swiss National Science Foundation (
Depositing User: J. Schnabel
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2019 16:31 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 18:09 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.