State and Federal Government in Switzerland

State and Federal Government in Switzerland

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State and Federal Government in Switzerland

State and Federal Government in Switzerland

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Excerpt

I have attempted to give in these few pages an outline of the existing conditions of government in Switzerland, in its federal, state, and local aspects. It is not a constitutional history; yet Swiss institutions are so firmly rooted in the past that historical explanations have at times been necessary, and the temptations to enter upon still wider digressions almost irresistible. Were it possible to give in brief space the evolution of each department of political and economic life I should deem the result well worth the effort, but such an exhibit is foreign to the purpose of this book. As it is, I have approached the subject from a republican standpoint. When I began these studies there was no adequate work upon Swiss government in the English language, and such as were written by other foreigners seemed to lack sympathy with the subject, because the authors were not personally accustomed to democratic institutions. I venture to hope that American nativity has given me some measure of appreciation and of impartiality.

I have had occasion to say frequently, and the statement can scarcely be repeated too often, that government in Switzerland can only be fully understood when the confederation and the cantons are studied together. Their fields of operation are at some points distinct, at others they overlap, and the functions of state and federal government become blended, in a manner for which there are no analogies in the institutions of the United States. Yet on the whole the two governments are so similar, and so many problems in national life are being worked out simultaneously in both, that an eminent professor of American history is well justified in saying that "of all the foreign federal constitutions now in operation, the most important for comparison with the Constitution of the United States is that of Switzerland." It is . . .

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