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[1848-1874 A.D.]

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to Lucerne. The separation of Schwyz with its allies was accomplished. On every hand the federal troops marched simultaneously on that capital. The gates were opened to them by a convention, and on the 24th of November Dufour made his entry. On the following days the Waldstätte and the Valais made their submission. Twenty-five days after the decree of execution the task of the army was complete the Sonderbund no longer existed.d The diet now debated the draft constitution drawn up by Kern of Thurgau and Druey of Vaud, which in the summer of 1848 was accepted by fifteen and a half cantons, the minority consisting of the three forest cantons, Valais, Zug, Ticino, and Appenzell (Tuner Rhodes), and it was proclaimed on September 12th.

From 1848 onwards the cantons continually revised their constitutions, always in a democratic sense, though after the Sonderbund War Schwyz and Zug abolished their Landsgemeinde. The chief point was the introduction of the referendum, by which laws made by the cantonal legislature may (facultative referendum) or must (obligatory referendum) be submitted to the people for their approval; and this has obtained such general acceptance that Fribourg alone does not possess the referendum in either of its two forms, Ticino having accepted it in its optional form in 1883. It was therefore only natural that attempts should be made to revise the federal constitution of 1848 in a democratic and centralising sense, for it had been provided that the federal assembly, on its own initiative or on the written request of fifty thousand Swiss electors, could submit the question of revision to a popular vote. In 1866 the restriction of certain rights to Christians only was swept away; but the attempt at final revision in 1872 was defeated by a small majority, owing to the efforts of the anticentralising party. Finally, however, another draft was better liked, and on April 19th, 1874, the new__constitution was accepted by the people. This constitution is that now in force, and is simply an improved edition of that of 1848. The federal tribunal (now of nine members only) was fixed (by federal law) at Lausanne, and its jurisdiction enlarged, especially in constitutional disputes between cantons and the federal authorities, though jurisdiction in administrative matters (e.g., educational, religious, election, commercial) is given to the federal council - a division of functions which is very anomalous, and does not work well.



A system of free elementary education was set up, and many regulations were made on ecclesiastical matters. A man settling in another canton was, after a residence of three months, only, given all cantonal and communal rights, save a share in the common property (an arrangement which as far as possible kept up the old principle that the "commune" is the true unit out of which cantons and the confederation are built), and the membership of the "commune" carries with it cantonal and federal rights. The refe

[1874-1887 A.D.] rendum was introduced in its "facultative" formi.e., all federal laws must be submitted to popular vote on the demand of thirty thousand Swiss electors or of eight cantons. If the revision of the federal constitution is demanded by one of the two houses of the federal assembly or by fifty thousand Swiss citizens, the question of revision must be submitted to a popular vote, as also the draft of the revised constitution — these provisions, contained already in the constitution of 1848, forming a species of "obligatory referendum." It was supposed that this plan would lead to radical and sweeping changes, but as a matter of fact there have been (1874-1886) about one hundred and seven federal laws and resolutions passed by the assembly, of which ninteeen were by the referendum submitted to popular vote, thirteen being rejected, while six only were accepted - the rest becoming law, as no referendum was demanded. There has been a very steady opposition to all schemes aiming at increased centralisation. By the constitutions of 1848 and 1874 Switzerland has ceased to be a mere union of independent states joined by a treaty, and has become a single state with a well-organized central government.

This new constitution inclined rather to the Act of Mediation than to the system which prevailed before 1798. A status of "Swiss citizenship" was set up, closely joined to cantonal citizenship: a man settling in a canton not being his birthplace got cantonal citizenship after two years, but was excluded from all local rights in the "commune" where he might reside. A federal or central government was set up, to which the cantons gave up a certain part of their sovereign rights, retaining the rest. The federal legislature (or assembly) was made up of two houses the council of states (Stände Rat), composed of two deputies from each canton, whether small or great (forty-four in all), and the national council (National Rat), made up of deputies (now 145 in number) elected for three years, in the proportion of one for every twenty thousand souls or fraction over ten thousand, the electors being all Swiss citizens. The federal council or executive (Bundesrat) consisted of seven members elected by the federal assembly; they are jointly responsible for all business, though for the sake of convenience there are various departments, and their chairman is called the president of the confederation. The federal judiciary (Bundesgericht) is made up of eleven members elected by the federal assembly for three years; its jurisdiction is chiefly confined to civil cases, in which the confederation is a party (if a canton, the federal council may refer the case to the federal tribunal), but takes in also great political crimes all constitutional questions, however, being reserved for the federal assembly. A federal university and a polytechnic school were to be founded; the latter only has as yet been set up (1887) and is fixed at Zurich. All military capitulations were forbidden in the future. Every canton must treat Swiss citizens who belong to one of the Christian confessions like their own citizens, for the right of free settlement is given to all such, though they acquired no rights in the "commune." All Christians were guaranteed the exercise of their religion, but the Jesuits and smiliar religious orders were not to be received in any canton. German, French, and Italian were recognised as national languages.


The constitution as a whole marked a great step forward; though very many rights were still reserved to the cantons, yet there was a fully organised central government. Almost the first act of the federal assembly was to exercise the power given them of determining the home of the federal authorities, and on Novembber 28th, 1848, Bern was chosen, though Zurich still ranks as the first canton in the confederation. By this early settlement of

[1891 A.D.] disputes Switzerland was protected from the genezal' revolutionary movement of 1848.

The federal constitution of 1848 set up a permanent federal executive, legislature, and tribunal, each and all quite distinct from and independent of any cantonal government. This system was a modified revival of the state of things that had prevailed from 1798 to 1803, and was an imitation of the political changes that had taken place in the cantonal constitutions after 1830. Both were victories of the centralist or radical party, and it was therefore but natural that this party should be called upon to undertake the federal government under the new constitution, a supremacy that it has kept ever since. To the centralists the council of states (two members from each canton, however large or small) has always been a stumbling-block, and they have mockingly nicknamed it "the fifth wheel of the coach." In the other house of the federal legislature, the national council (one member per twenty thousand, or fraction of over ten thousand of the entire population), the radicals have always since its creation in 1848 had a majority. Hence, in the congress formed by both houses sitting together, the radicals have had it all their own way. This is particularly important as regards the election of the seven members of the federal executive which is made by such a congress. Now the federal executive (federal council) is in no sense a cabinet i.e., a committee of the party in the majority in the legislature for the time being. In the Swiss federal constitution the cabinet has no place at all. Each member of the federal executive is elected by a separate ballot, and holds office for the fixed term of three years, during which he cannot be turned out of office, while as yet but a single instance has occurred of the rejection of a federal councillor who offered himself for re-election.

Further, none of the members of the federal executive can hold a seat in either house of the federal legislature, though they may appear and speak (but not vote) in either, while the federal council as such has not necessarily any common policy, and never expresses its views on the general situation (though it does as regards particular legislative and administrative measures) in anything resembling the "speech from the throne" in England. Thus it seems clear that the federal executive was intended by the federal constitution of 1848 (and in this respect that of 1874 made no change) to be a standing committee of the legislature as a whole, but not of a single party in the legislature, or a "cabinet," even though it had the majority. Yet this rule of a single political party is just what has taken place. Between 1848 and the end of 1899, thirty-six federal councillors were elected (twenty-three from German-speaking, eleven from French-speaking, and two from Italianspeaking Switzerland, the canton of Vaud heading the list with seven). Now of these thirty-six two only were not radicals, viz. M. Ceresole (1870-75) of Vaud, who was a Protestant liberal-conservative, and Herr Zemp (elected in 1891), a Romanist conservative; yet the conservative minority is a large one, while the Romanists form about two-fifths of the population of Switzerland. But, despite this predominance of a single party in the federal council, no true cabinet system has come into existence in Switzerland, as members of the council do not resign even when their personal policy is condemned by a popular vote, so that the resignation of Herr Welti (a member of the federal council from 1866 to 1891), in consequence of the rejection by the people of his railway policy, caused the greatest amazement and consternation in Switzerland.

The chief political parties in the federal legislature are the right, or conservatives (whether Romanists or Protestants), the centre (now often called

[1891-1900 A.D.] "liberals," but rather answering to the whigs of English political language), the left (or radicals), and the extreme left (or the socialists). In the council of states there is always a federalt majority, since in this house the smaller cantons are on an equality with the greater ones, each indifferently having two members. But in the national council (147 elected members) there has always been a radical majority over all other parties, the numbers of the various parties after the triennial elections of 1899 being roughly as follows: radicals, 86; socialists, 9; Centre, 19; and the Right, 33. The socialists long worked under the wing of the radicals, but now in every canton (save Geneva) the two parties have quarrelled, the socialist vote having largely increased. In the country the anti-radical opposition is made up of the conservatives, who are strongest in the Romanist, and especially the forest cantons, and of the "federalists" of French-speaking Switzerland. There is no doubt that the people are really anti-radical, though occasionally led away by the experiments made recently in the domain of state socialism: they elect, indeed, a radical majority, but very frequently reject the bills laid before them by their elected representatives.

From 1885 onwards Switzerland had some troubles with foreign powers owing to her defence of the right of asylum for fugitive German socialists, despite the threats of Prince Bismarck, who maintained a secret police in Switzerland, one member of which, Wohlgemuth, was expelled in 1889, to the prince's huge but useless indignation. From about 1890, as the above troubles within and without gradually subsided, the agitation in the country against the centralising policy of the radicals became more and more strongly marked. By the united exertions of all the opposition parties, and against the steady resistance of the radicals, an amendment was introduced in 1891 into the federal constitution, by which fifty thousand Swiss citizens can by the "initiative" compel the federal legislature and executive to take into consideration some point in the federal constitution which, in the opinion of the petitioners, requires reform, and to prepare a bill dealing with it which must be submitted to a popular vote. Great hopes and fears were entertained at the time as to the working of this new institution, but both have been falsified, for the initiative has as yet only succeeded in inserting (in 1893) in the federal constitution a provision by which the Jewish method of killing animals is forbidden. On the other hand, it has failed (in 1894) to secure the adoption of a socialist scheme by which the state was bound to provide work for every able-bodied man in the country, and (also in 1894) to carry a proposal to give to the cantons a bonus of two francs per head of the population out of the rapidly growing returns of the customs duties.

The great rise in the productiveness of these duties has tempted the Swiss people of late years to embark on a course of state socialism, which may be also described as a series of measures tending to give more and more power to the central federal government at the expense of the cantons. So, in 1890, the principle of compulsory universal insurance against sickness and accidents was accepted by a popular vote, in 1891 likewise that of a state or federal bank, and in 1898 that of the unification of the cantonal laws, civil and criminal, into a set of federal codes. In each case the federal government and legislature were charged with the preparation of laws carrying out in detail these general principles. But in 1897 their proposals as to a federal bank were rejected by the people, while at the beginning of 1900 the suspicion felt as to the insurance proposals elaborated by the federal authorities was so keen that a popular demand for a popular vote was signed by 115,000 Swiss citizens, the legal minimum being only 30,000: they were rejected (20th

[1891-1900 A.D.]

of May, 1900) on a popular vote by a two to one majority. The preparation of the federal codes has progressed quietly, drafts being framed by experts and then submitted for criticism to special commissions and public opinion. But this method, though the true one to secure the evolving of order out of chaos, takes time.

By a popular vote in 1887 the federal authorities were given a monopoly of alcohol, but a proposal to deal similarly with tobacco has been very ill received (though such a monopoly would undoubtedly produce a large amount), and would pretty certainly be refused by the people if a popular vote were ever taken upon it. In 1895 the people declined to sanction a state monopoly of matches, even though the unhealthy nature of the work was strongly urged, and have also resolutely refused on several occasions to accept any projects for the centralising of the various branches of military administration, etc. Among other reforms which have recently been much discussed in Switzerland are the introduction of the obligatory referendum (which hitherto has applied only to amendments to the federal constitution) and the initiative (now limited to piecemeal revision of the federal constitution) to all federal laws, etc., and the making large federal money grants to the primary schools (managed by the several cantons). The former scheme is an attempt to restrain important centralising measures from being presented as laws (and as such exempt from the compulsory referendum), and not as amendments to the federal constitution, while the proposed school grant is part of the radical policy of buying support for unpopular measures by lavish federal subventions, which it is hoped will outweigh the dislike of the cantons to divest themselves of any remaining fragments of their sovereignty.e

In recent years arbitration treaties have been concluded with Great Britain, France, Austria, Italy, and other countries. In May, 1906, the celebrated Simplon tunnel was formally opened by the president and by the king of Italy. In 1907 proposals were made to build an electric railway up the Matterhorn. Later, in the same year, the canton of Geneva voted to discontinue the connection between church and state."

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