it increasingly difficult to recruit new members and have thus lost their
strength. The party system and therefore also the political system as a
whole has become less stable. In the years to come, there are good reasons to expect major political changes.
1. This net loss of 184 municipalities consists of 66 new registrations and 250
fusions ( BFS 1992, xxiii). 2. The direct influence of the electoral system on the number of political parties
can be shown empirically. In communities with a proportional system, there are
generally more political parties organized than in communities with a majoritarian system (see Ladner 1991, 169ff.). This pattern is especially true for the smaller
For the impact of the voting system on voter participation, see Ladner and Milner (forthcoming).
4. "Small size has both direct and indirect effects on the probability that consociational democracy will be established and will be successful: it directly enhances a spirit of cooperativeness and accommodation, and it indirectly increases
the chances of consociational democracy by reducing the burdens of decisionmaking and thus rendering the country easier to govern" ( Lijphart 1977, 65). Switzerland, Belgium, and Holland are examples of consociational democracy in Europe (see Lijphart 1977, 65). 5. Only about 16 percent of Swiss communities have a parliament (see Ladner 1991, 82). In the rest of the communities, citizens come together several times a
year in a community meeting to decide on the political issues at stake. 6. As a result of the weak position of the federal party organizations and the
important role of the cantonal parties, it is sometimes said that Switzerland does
not have one but rather twenty-six different party systems, one for each canton
(see Schumann 1971, 125). 7. The data used in this paper stem from three nationwide surveys carried out
at the Institute of Sociology at Zurich University: a survey of communal secretaries in 1988 (see Ladner 1991), a survey of local party presidents in 1990 (see Geser et al. 1994), and another survey of communal secretaries in 1994. 8. In Western Germany in larger municipalities and rural cities, local parties
also existed in the time before the municipal reform, but in the villages,
the "party age" only started after the reform in the late 1960s ( Schneider 1991,
Some sections of the Radical Democrats say that they were founded between 1840 and 1850. At this point, however, they were most probably predecessor organizations in the form of reading and discussing circles.
This estimate is based on data from about 70 percent of the Swiss communities.
The information of the communal secretaries in this regard is not consistent. On the one hand, they report fewer parties in 1994 than in 1988. On the other
hand, they report the foundation of about 750 new political groups and only 250
dissolutions. This is probably due to the fact that a party foundation is rarely
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Local Parties in Political and Organizational Perspective.
Contributors: Martin Saiz - Editor, Hans Geser - Editor.
Publisher: Westview Press.
Place of publication: Boulder, CO.
Publication year: 1999.
Page number: 239.
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