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Democracy Lab What is federalism?

In Switzerland, state power is spread over three levels: the federal government, the 26 cantons and the 2,222 municipalities. This system of federalism guarantees Swiss diversity. Political scientist Sean Müller researches this lifeline of democracy in a small but heterogeneous country.

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What does someone from Appenzell have in common with someone in Geneva? What connects the people of Ticino with those from Thurgau? Little more than the red Swiss passport.

Switzerland is a country of many languages and cultures. Federalism allows the cantons and communities to maintain their diverse identities while ensuring that Switzerland as a country does not fall apart.

In Democracy Lab, #DearDemocracy’s video series, political scientist Sean Müller from the University of Bern explains how the interplay of the three levels of government works, and highlights some of the sticking points. He also compares Swiss practice with federalism in other countries.

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