Liberal and Radical Democracies: The Swiss Cantons Compared

Marc Bühlmann 1 , Adrian Vatter 1 , Oliver Dlabac 2  and Hans-Peter Schaub 1
  • 1 Institute of Political Science, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • 2 Department of Political Science, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Marc Bühlmann, Adrian Vatter, Oliver Dlabac and Hans-Peter Schaub

Abstract

This article examines the widespread hypothesis that German-speaking Swiss cantons exhibit radical-democratic characteristics, while the Latin cantons possess stronger liberal-representative democratic profiles. Empirical and multi-dimensional measuring of the quality of democracy in the cantons shows that this hypothesis does not do the complexity of cantonal democracy justice. Today’s position of the cantons along the axes of liberal and radical democracy is best explained with reference to the strong liberal and democratic constitutional movements within the cantons during the middle of the 19th century.

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