THE SWISS FEDERATION – Η ΕΛΒΕΤΙΚΗ ΟΜΟΣΠΟΝΔΙΑ (In relation to certain under discussion aspects of the intercommunal talks of Cyprus). Συγκριτική μελέτη για το κυπριακό

elbetia-xartis This Project was prepared (in Greek) by: Panayiotis Ifestos (7th of December, 1988) when appointed and served for two years to the “Office for the Study of questions related to Cyprus” («Γραφείο Μελετών Κυπριακού» (ΓΜΚ), της προεδρίας της Κυπριακής Δημοκρατίας, αποστολή του οποίου ήταν έρευνα και μελέτες στις διαπραγματεύσεις για το κυπριακό.)

Σύντομη εισαγωγή. Αφήνοντας το 2016 και εισερχόμενοι στο 2017 το κυπριακό ζήτημα είναι πλέον στην αιχμή των Ελληνοτουρκικών σχέσεων και γενικότερα της Ελληνικής διπλωματίας. Για να είμαστε ακριβείς αυτό είναι μια πολιτική και διπλωματική ανωμαλία. Καθότι ενώ από το 1974 ως το μέγα και μείζον ζήτημα που αφορά εκατοντάδες χιλιάδες Έλληνες λογικά και πολιτικά-στρατηγικά-διπλωματικά έπρεπε να ενταχθεί σε μια ισχυρή αποτρεπτική στρατηγική, επικράτησε το ανάλγητο, ανάποδο και καταστροφικό δόγμα «μεγάλων» «ηγετών» ότι «η Κύπρος είναι μακριά» που πιστά ακολούθησαν οι περισσότεροι έκτοτε. Η δε στρατηγική ένταξης στην ΕΕ και ο ενιαίος αμυντικός χώρος ενταγμένος σε μια ελληνική αποτρεπτική στρατηγική δεν υιοθετήθηκε πλήρως αλλά μάλλον, κυριολεκτικά, επιβλήθηκε μέσα από δημόσιες αντιπαραθέσεις κάποιων στις Θερμοπύλες οι οποίοι επιμένουν να λένε το αυτονόητο (βλ. τα δύο δοκίμια τον τίτλο και σύνδεσμο των οποίων παραθέτουμε αμέσως μετά σε αυτό το εισαγωγικό κείμενο). Συμπληρώνω λέγοντας αφενός ότι το Ενιαίο Αμυντικό Δόγμα ουσιαστικά εγκαταλείφθηκε και αφετέρου ότι η ένταξη στην ΕΕ αντί να γίνει το μεγαλύτερο πλεονέκτημα ζητώντας πεισματικά και ακλόνητα μετά το 2001 να υπάρξει διέξοδος μέσα από το ευρωπαϊκό νομικό κεκτημένο, μυστηριδώς είχαμε το σχέδιο Αναν που ακύρωνε όλα τα ερείσματα και τώρα την Ελβετία. «Ελβετία» της οποίας δεν προηγήθηκε μια συστηματική διπλωματική προσπάθεια πρόταξης της διεθνούς νομιμότητας (αποκατάσταση της διεθνούς τάξης και πλήρης εφαρμογή του «σκληρού» δικαίου των Συμβάσεων για τα ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα και τους εποίκους) και της Ευρωπαϊκής νομιμότητας (η ΚΔ εντάχθηκε ως πλήρες κυρίαρχο μέλος και το ευρωπαϊκό νομικό κεκτημένο ισχύει de jure επί όλης της Επικράτειας – από μόνο αυτό λύνει τα πλείστα ζητήματα του λεγόμενου «κυπριακού ζητήματος»).  Η διαδικασία που άρχισε στην Ελβετία τον Δεκέμβριο 2016, κατά συνέπεια, είναι βαθύτατων προεκτάσεων (εκτιμώ δυνητικά αρνητικών, εκ του γεγονότος ότι συναινέσαμε για μια Διεθνή Διάσκεψη σε λάθος βάση, δηλαδή την ΔΔΟ και χωρίς, επαναλαμβάνω, να θέσουμε απαράβατο όρο την εφαρμογή της διεθνούς και ευρωπαϊκής νομιμότητας, πιο συγκεκριμένα της Ευρωπαϊκής έννομης τάξης, των αποφάσεων του Συμβουλίου Ασφαλείας για την διεθνή τάξη και των διεθνών συμβάσεων όπως αυτή της Γενεύης για τους έποικους). Τα ζητήματα αυτά τα έχουμε αναλύσει εκτενώς σε άλλα κείμενα και δεν χρειάζεται να επανέλθω εδώ [βλ. και την έκθεση εμπειρογνωμόνων του διεθνούς πάνελ που αποτελεί την μόνη πολιτική και νομική βάση διεξόδου στο κυπριακό ζήτημα: «ΠΛΑΙΣΙΟ ΑΡΧΩΝ ΓΙΑ ΜΙΑ ΔΙΚΑΙΗ ΚΑΙ ΒΙΩΣΙΜΗ ΛΥΣΗ ΤΟΥ ΚΥΠΡΙΑΚΟΥ ΜΕ ΓΝΩΜΟΝΑ ΤΟ ΔΙΕΘΝΕΣ ΚΑΙ ΕΥΡΩΠΑΪΚΟ ΔΙΚΑΙΟ, …» http://wp.me/p3OlPy-lc]. Επειδή ακριβώς οι μήνες και ίσως χρόνια που έρχονται το κυπριακό θα μας απασχολήσει συχνά και πυκνά, θα προσπαθήσουμε να εμπλουτίσουμε την συζήτηση επί κύριων ζητημάτων και με ενίοτε κουραστικές και εξειδικευμένες επαναφορές ουσιαστικών αναλύσεων με τα περιφραφικά πορίσματα των οποίων και μόνο μπορούμε να κινηθ0ύμε πολιτικά,  νομικά και στρατηγικά ορθολογιστικά . Ορθολογιστική διπλωματία απαιτεί ορθολογιστική πολιτική σκέψη και η ορθολογιστική πολιτική σκέψη απαιτεί γνώση όχι μόνο των ζητημάτων που τίθενται αλλά και των ειδοποιών διαφορών κάθε πτυχής. Οι γνώμες, οι διαφορές γνωμών και η πολιτική πάλη έπονται της αντικειμενικής περιγραφής των πτυχών αυτών. Εδώ σήμερα αναρτώ κείμενο για την Ομοσπονδία της Ελβετίας που συνέταξα το 1988 ως μέλος του ΓΜΚ στην Προεδρία της ΚΔ που υποστήριζε το έργο των διαπραγματεύσεων. Πρόκειται για μια μάλλον «τεχνοκρατική» συγκριτική μελέτη που έχει όμως την αξία της καθότι δείχνει τον ανόμοιο χαρακτήρα κάθε περίπτωσης αλλά και το γεγονός πως δεν μπορεί να υπάρξει βιώσιμη κρατική δομή και θεσμοί χωρίς να τηρούνται κάποιες προϋποθέσεις λήψης αποφάσεων και αποφυγής πολώσεων (και ασφαλώς η κλήρωση ή «ρίξιμο νομίσματος» που ακούστηκε ότι συζητείται είναι μια κυριολεκτικά αστεία, επικίνδυνη και ανεύθυνη προσέγγιση). Την ίδια περίοδο είχα κάνει και μια μελέτη για το Βέλγιο σε μια προσπάθεια να εντοπιστούν άλλες ανάλογες περιπτώσεις. Δεν βρήκα ούτε μια περίπτωση περίπτωση κράτους με εσωτερικά σύνορα σε εθνική/ρατσιστική βάση. «Έχασα» τα ηλεκτρονικά αρχεία αμφότερων των μελετών (αν και σίγουρα βρίσκονται στους υπηρεσιακούς φακέλους). Το κείμενο για την Ελβετία το βρήκαν και το μετέφρασαν στην Αγγλική γλώσσα Έλληνες στην Αυστραλία (μεταφραστής ο Ερρίκος Νεοφύτου) και μου το έστειλαν πριν λίγα χρόνια. Σημειώνω ότι πριν τοποθετηθώ στο ΓΜΚ υπηρέτησα επί 9.5 χρόνια στην διπλωματική αποστολή της ΚΔ στις Βρυξέλλες όπου κύριο έργο μου ήταν οι διαπραγματεύσεις για τις σχέσεις Κύπρου – τότε ΕΟΚ. Στην συνέχεια, τα δύο χρόνια όπου υπηρετούσα ως κρατικός λειτουγός στην Προεδρία, αφού διαφώνησα κάθετα με τον τότε πρόεδρο Βασιλείου για το θέμα της ένταξης στην ΕΕ την οποία μαζί με μερικούς άλλους υποστηρίξαμε πυκνά και συχνά ως διέξοδο από την επί ένα τέταρτο άγονη διαπραγματευτική βάση, το 1990 διορίστηκα σε Ελληνικό Πανεπιστήμιο όπου συνέχισα να υποστηρίζω με βιβλία, άρθρα και δοκίμια τόσο την στρατηγική αυτή όσο και αυτή του Ενιαίου Αμυντικού Χώρου σε συνδυασμό με μια ισχυρή Ελληνική Αποτρεπτική Στρατηγική. Βλ. Δοκίμια όπου κάνω ανάλυση αυτών των στρατηγικών: In Memoriam Γιάννου Κρανιδιώ%ce%ba%cf%8d%cf%80%cf%81%ce%bf%cf%82%ce%ba%ce%ba%ce%b1%cf%84%ce%b5%cf%87τη. Ειρηνική επίλυση των ελληνοτουρκικών διαφορών και ο Γιάννος Κρανιδιώτης http://wp.me/p3OlPy-I2 και Ελληνική Εθνική Στρατηγική, έννοια, σκοποί προϋποθέσεις επιτυχούς εκπλήρωσης: η περίπτωση της ευρωπαϊκής προοπτικής… http://wp.me/p3OlPy-Ff . Σημειώνω μόνο ότι όλη η ουσία έγκειται στο γεγονός πως οι στρατηγικές αυτές θα μας έδιναν την δυνατότητα να διαπραγματευτούμε από βάση ισορροπίας δυνάμεων στην βάση της διεθνούς και ευρωπαϊκής νομιμότητας. Δεν το κάναμε, υπογραμμίζω ξανά καθότι αυτά είναι μεγάλα λάθη της Ελλαδικής και Κυπριακής πολιτικής, και το πληρώνουμε τώρα. Τους λόγους τους εξηγώ απερίφραστα στα δοκίμια που παρέθεσα μόλις αλλά και σε πρόσφατες παρεμβάσεις ΄όπου απορώ γιατί δεν προτάσσονται τα αντικειμενικά κριτήρια μιας βιώσιμης λύσης χωρίς τα οποία διέξοδος δεν υπάρχει, ενώ εάν τα παρακάμψουμε θα είναι ένα άλμα στο κενό που θα μας ρίξει στην Άβυσσο του νεοτουρκικού κράτους. Τέλος, ανατρέχοντας στα αρχεία της περασμένης δεκαετίας όταν αναλωθήκαμε στην συζήτηση του φασιστικού, ανελεύθερου και αντί-δημοκρατικού σχεδίου Αναν. Διαπιστώνω ότι επαναλαμβάνονται τα ίδια και τα ίδια λάθη. Γι’ αυτό και η επαναφορά κάποιων αναλύσεων είναι εξαιρετικά χρήσιμη και εμπλουτιστική. Η μόνη λογική ερμηνεία είναι ότι οι νεοέλληνες δεν διαθέτουν κράτος που να μπορεί να παρακολουθεί, αναλύει, σταθμίζει, χαράσσει και εφαρμόζει μια εθνική στρατηγική συμβατή με τις προϋποθέσεις της σύγχρονης διεθνούς πολιτικής. Ταυτόχρονα τα μέλη-πολίτες της νεοελληνικής κοινωνίας (Ελλαδικής και Κυπριακής) επειδή ακριβώς δεν κατανοούν ότι δεν διαθέτουν σύγχρονο κράτος (όπως και ο υποφαινόμενος, ομολογώ, που επί μακρόν δεν ήθελε να το πιστέψει), δεν μεριμνούν να αυτο-οργανωθούν και να αυτό-θεσπιστούν πολιτικά για να μπορούν να αξιώνουν από την εκάστοτε εξουσία να είναι εντολοδόχος τους και όχι εντολέας τους. Σε αυτό συνίσταται η δημοκρατία (και όχι σε κάποιο πολιτικά ανώμαλο μοντεερνιστικό  ιδεολογικό δόγμα – ΑΡΙΣΤΟΤΕΛΙΣΜΟΣ, ΔΙΑΔΡΟΜΕΣ ΤΩΝ ΝΕΩΝ ΧΡΟΝΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΤΟ ΜΟΝΤΕΡΝΙΣΤΙΚΟ ΙΔΕΟΛΟΓΙΚΟ ΔΗΛΗΤΗΡΙΟ http://wp.me/p3OqMa-1jx). Η πικρή αλήθεια είναι ότι η ξενοκρατία καλά κρατάει, οι εγχώριοι πραιτοριανοί γίνονται όλο και πιο αδίστακτοι στην προσφορά υπηρεσιών στα ξένα αφεντικά τους και η Ελληνική κοινωνία ροκανίζεται και καταστέλλεται από ένα ανελέητο μεταμοντέρνο πόλεμο [ΜΕΤΑΜΟΝΤΕΡΝΟΣ ΠΟΛΕΜΟΣ http://wp.me/p3OqMa-1ijhttp://wp.me/p3OlPy-1pn]. Τα αδιέξοδα γίνονται ολοένα και περισσότερα, η κοινωνία καταστέλλεται και κατεδαφίζεται, οι νέοι μεταναστεύουν, η μεταμοντέρνα δυναστεία της ξενοκρατίας γίνεται ολοένα και πιο αδίστακτη και οι πολιτικοί-κωλοτούμπες ολοένα και πιο υποταγμένοι με αμοιβή κοκκαλάκια που γλύφουν πάνω σε ματωμένες καρέκλες. Πολλά έπονται και το κυπριακό θα είναι και πάλι προπομπός συμφορών. Όχι επειδή οι Έλληνες εκεί φταίνε σε κάτι αλλά επειδή το ανάλγητο, ανίκανο, ξενοκρατούμενο και ανυπόστατο «μητροπολιτικό» κρατίδιο των Αθηνών αυτό κάνει τους δύο τελευταίους αιώνες εις βάτος των απανταχού Ελλήνων εκτός συνόρων του. Η συγκαιρινή ειδοποιός διαφορά έγκειται στο γεγονός ότι τα ίδια κάνει και στους νεοέλληνες εντός των κρατικών του συνόρων.

The text which follows was thranslated by Mr Errikos Neophytou (on the 24 October, 1996)

THE SWISS FEDERATION in relation to certain under discussion aspects of the intercommunal talks of Cyprus

Table of Contents

Page

A     Historical peculiarities of the Swiss phenomenon and the concepts of federation and confederation……………………………………………………

B…. Outline of the Swiss Constitution……………………………………………….

C… Some of the under discussion aspects of the intercommunal talks of Cyprus and the case of Switzerland…………………………………………………………

  1. National question, balance of ethnic groups……………………………………….
  2. Legislative power…………………………………………………………………………………
  3. Executive council………………………………………………………………………………..
  4. Executive power, general comments…………………………………………………….
  5. Party life and other peculiarities…………………………………………………………
  6. Review of the constitution………………………………………………………………….
  7. Judicial power…………………………………………………………………………………….
  8. Relationship of central and federal laws………………………………………….
  9. BASIC FREEDOMS……………………………………………………………………………..
  1. Historical peculiarities of the Swiss phenomenon and the concepts of federation and confederation

As it is often mentioned in writings on federation, the interpretation and comprehension of existing federal systems should consider the political and social conditions of each case that led to a state system of this form. It could be added that all the existing federal state systems were created and developed within their own peculiar historical frame, and their own particular political, geopolitical and socioeconomic coincidence. Perhaps the only case of a state with modern laws[1], which are often mentioned in relation to the Cyprus problem, is the one of the (con)federation of Switzerland.

In comparison to the Cyprus problem the basic similarity of the Swiss case is found in its poly-ethnic character and the basic difference in the fact that the current structures of the Swiss state, contrary to those of the Cyprus state, are a result of a long term historical development. Additionally, whereas the federation of Cyprus will be 2 regions, with only two ethnic groups, the Swiss federation is multi regional[2] and with more than two ethnic groups.

It should, also, be indicated that the cases of Cyprus and Switzerland are placed within fundamentally different historical and political coincidences. Firstly, Switzerland is the result of a long term procedure where different sociopolitical totals resulted – after approximately 10 centuries – in the creation of a common partnership state. On the contrary, in Cyprus, the unitary state was divided – mainly – because of external interferences and the justifying basis for continuation of its existence is within the pursuit of a quick (in essence from one day to the other) restoration of its unification. Namely, the creation of a unitary state within a short time will perpetuate its existence, whereas the continuation of the separation of the two ethnic communities under whatever shape, will introduce a logic that will be contrary to the reasons that played an important role in its establishment, leading perhaps to permanent division.

The traditional terminology defines the confederation of nations (staatenbund) as the case in which separate states – for many and varied reasons make a treaty that entrusts certain responsibilities to collective agencies. These responsibilities are the defence, foreign affairs policy, the waging of wars and the arbitration in case of differences between the states of the confederation. The decisions of confederation agencies ( in which all states are represented equally regardless of size), are taken unanimously. Also, transfer of new responsibilities to central agencies can not occur without the agreement of the representatives of all states. Many analysts support that the states are free to withdraw from the confederation if they denounce the establishing Treaty (and some American analysts that the central collective agencies should not have under any circumstances a direct relationship with people). As far as the federal state is concerned, its traditional concept consists of the union of various states and the creation of a new (unitary) federal state, governed by the (federal) constitution. The powers of the central agencies are much greater than those of the confederation and the contracted parties do not have the right to withdraw from the federation. Also, the review of the constitution occurs by majority , and the agencies of the central government are in direct relationship with all the citizens of the state.

From the above mentioned outline of the two concepts, it is deduced that the confederation in substance is a treaty of co-existence of different states depending on circumstances with arrangements for high level co-operation and common policy in certain areas. On the contrary, the federation refers to a unitary state with high level decentralisation in many areas.

The examination of the Swiss model makes it clear that although Switzerland started practically as a confederation, it has ended in having more of a federal character. Of course, it has a very high level cohesion thus it is not regarded as a simple alliance of separate states, but it is not centralised enough to be fully regarded a federation with the classical meaning.

The analysis of the Swiss experiment in relation to Cyprus could be done with reference to two analytical unities. First, constitutional aspects, and second, ethnological/psychological/social aspects. This short note will focus on examining the first aspect, because the ethnological/psychological/social aspect would demand undertaking a very large research project and many judgements of values, which are not for the present.

B.      Outline of the Swiss Constitution

The 123 articles of the Federal Swiss Constitution (and the 50 in between articles), are divided into three large categories: First, general provisions, second, federal powers, and third, methods of review of the federal constitution.

The chapter «general provisions» is referring to various matters of public life, as well as to setting the responsibility boundaries of the federal authorities. It, also, defines the rules that govern the relationship between a person and the state and the individuals’ freedoms. The responsibilities of the federal authorities cover the foreign affairs policy, the defence, the financial policy, the environmental policy, the legislation on social matters, the funding policy, the customs, the civil rights, the criminal law, the migration policy and the health policy. As far as the individual’s freedoms are concerned, the federal system, among other freedoms, secures the freedom of trade and industry, the freedom of settlement, the religious freedom, and the freedom of the press. Also, the «right to be tried/judged» by the natural judge of each one.

The second chapter, which deals with the responsibilities of the federal authorities, covers the national Council, the Council of the (federal) states, the federal parliament, the legislative instruments of the confederation, the executive responsibilities of the federal agencies and the federal court.

The third chapter, which defines the reviewing procedure, makes distinction between the partial and total review of the federal constitution. It, also, defines the reviewing procedures, who can propose them and who decides.

C.      Some of the under discussion aspects of the intercommunal talks of Cyprus and the case of Switzerland

In the following lines problems of the Swiss federation that have been solved with constitutional procedures and other ways, and which continue to remain critical unsolved aspects of the Cyprus problem will be analysed.

1.         National question, balance of ethnic groups

The problem of finding a political balance – and the avoidance of polarisation – between different ethnic groups of the Swiss confederation appears to have been «solved»[3] as much as for historical reasons as well as because of constitutional processes. Further down we will refer to the main factors that compose this aspect.

First,    according to the constitution, despite the fact that the fundamental ethnic groups are only three there are in total 26 cantons (of which 6 are half-cantons) . Thus, in addition to the fact that the existence of three ethnic groups secures a different balance – from the case where the ethnic groups are only two the danger of political/economic polarisation for «ethnic» reasons have weakened even more, with the dissemination of the political power and lawfulness/devotion to state/ethnic ties.

Second, this dissemination of loyalty/devotion was assisted by the fact that the political/economic polarisation was not favoured by History. Specifically, apart from the fact that the «idea of the Swiss unity» was forged from within the geopolitical peculiarities of this area, the dissemination of loyalty/devotion, in ethnic and state models has its roots in the existence through the centuries of small states or regional centres of power, with their own linguistic, cultural and economic peculiarities and comprehension of the common interest.

In the rest of Europe, the emergence of the state/nation – whereas a rule brought ethnic homogeneity imposing the domination of one ethnic element – neutralised/assimilated mini-states and autonomous regional centres of power. In Switzerland however, the through the centuries effort to create state structures that would include all the ethnic groups, the centres of power, and the interests of the heterogenous Swiss area, allowed the conservation and finally the maintenance of the local peculiarities (which as already mentioned do not promote uniformity within every «ethnic group»).

Third, for any constitutional amendment or new legislative act of the Central Government, the plebiscite system has been applied. For an amendment to be accepted it has to be approved by the people at the national level as well as from the majority of cantons. (Article 123).

Finally, the cantons have all the residuary power, namely the powers not manifestly given by the Constitution to the central federal agencies. Despite the significant powers of the central agencies, the avoidance of polarisation, we repeat, is achieved through the dissemination of powers to the cantons in a very large number of areas: Health, training, education, culture, energy, protection of the environment and the consumer, religion, social allowances, security and police. It has been calculated that if the foreign policy and defence are exempted, most powers belong to the authorities of the cantons.

 2.         Legislative Power

According to the Swiss Constitution the Federal Assembly has two Houses of «Councils». The National Council (Lower House) and the Council of States (Upper House). The National Council (200 members) representation is based on the population of each canton with minimum participation of 1 member per canton. The elections for the National Council are based on the proportional system, where each canton is an electoral area. The result of the elections is decided by party votes and candidate votes. Namely, every vote for a candidate means a personal vote for the candidate and a vote for his/her party.

In the Council of States (Upper House), there are 46 members 2 for each canton and one for each half-canton. Namely, the fact that there is equal representation for each canton and not each ethnic group is indicated.

Most of the responsibilities of the Federal Assembly cover administrative matters of the electoral laws, legislation of federal matters, remuneration of federal officers, election of the federal Council, the federal court, the Chancellor, and the Commander of the federal army, alliances and treaties with third countries, external security matters, the guarantee of the constitution and the national integrity, measures of applying federal policies, the annual federal budget, the resolution of differences between federal agencies and the review of the Constitution.

The federal laws and the federal decision must be approved by both Councils (namely by the Upper as well as by the Lower House). Federal laws may become a plebiscite subject if 50,000 citizens or 8 cantons ask for it. Joining international organisations of collective security or multinational organisations is also a plebiscite subject.

The two Parliaments seat and vote separately.

3.         Executive Council

            The highest body of the Confederation is the Federal Council that is composed of 7 members. Its main characteristic is the decentralisation by Department. The Chairman of the Council, who also is the President of the Confederation, is «primus inter pares» and is elected by his/her colleagues for a year’s term.

According to the constitution only one Minister can come from each canton. In addition, (according to an «unwritten law» at least two Ministers are non-German speaking individuals). Namely, the Constitution does not provide «ethnic distribution» of Ministers in the Federal Government, which as aforesaid is elected by the members of the Federal Assembly. It is worth noting that the election of the Federal Council by the Federal Assembly is an additional democratic element, because in this the Lower House prevails which as mentioned above is elected on the basis of the population of each canton.

Similarly we did not find anything in the Swiss Constitution that provides for a Ministerial veto. Article 103 determines that decisions are taken by the Federal Council as a body, something that promotes the «principle of collectivity». Namely, although an effort is made to make decisions unanimously, the principle of majority vote is in force, and there is no provision for «ethnic veto», something which without doubt would have introduced criteria leading to «ethnic polarisation». Of course it must be said that the avoidance of the ethnic veto emanates from the polyethnic and multi-canton character of the Swiss state.

             Namely, as we see, the organisation of the structures of the Swiss state favours decision making through a democratic way, thus ethnic vetoes and ethnic polarisation are avoided.

4.         Executive Power, general comments

It is supported that the main criterion of a genuine federation is found in the fact that the Federal as well as the regional authorities have direct effect on the citizen. On the contrary in confederation only the regional governments have direct effect on the people whereas the Central Government has effect only on the regional authorities and in some areas only. Also, the right to withdraw from the federation is of decisive importance if we are referring to a federation or a confederation/international organisation. The only case of an existing federation where withdrawal is provided – and here it appears theoretically – is the Constitution of the Soviet Union.

As far as the direct effect on the citizen is concerned the Swiss case – as it has developed – includes both federation and confederation criteria. The direct effect in one area depends on the degree by which a federal or confederal agency is responsible, whereas there are also cases of mixed direct effect.

However, the opinion exists that article 2 of the Swiss Constitution[4] with its conceptional broadness, provides finally the possibility not only to concentrate a large number of powers in the hands of the federal agencies, but also to define the way that these are distributed to the federal authorities as well as the way they are applied. In the opposite, others support that the broadness of article 2 does not create a right of uncontrolled and generalised extension of the responsibilities of the Central Government.

In practice, – and mainly in the relations with other states, the security, the economic policy, the monetary policy and communications – the tendency of extension of the responsibilities of the Central Government certainly exists. Despite all these, the power continues to be distributed in a fluid – and not at all easily determined with accuracy – way between the cantons and the Central Government. Generally speaking, in areas of traditional power of the cantons[5] there is a tendency for increasing centralisation, whereas in others[6] the opposite occurs.

According to general assessment, there is a continuous and steady tendency towards increased centralisation, something which among other reasons, emanates from the needs of the modern state in a world with ever increasing dependence on each other.

Independently of the above mentioned developments, of course, it must be emphasised that the powers of the cantons – something safeguarded by the Constitution – are reinforced from the provision for «remnants of power», and are secured from the fact that a change of the constitution as well as new federal legislation must be adopted by both Houses.

5.         Party life and other peculiarities

In order to understand better the Swiss system, however, a parenthesis in relation to the political/party character of the modern Swiss state must be made. Firstly according to common ascertainment, a reduced – compared with other states – popular enthusiasm as far as common matters are concerned exists.

Among other reasons, this is due to the state system itself, which demands a more regular and intense participation of the citizens in plebiscites, something which of course tires. In addition, the dissemination of power between the central and regional agencies instigates the dissemination of interests as well of concern.

Since 1959, the 7 members of the Federal Council are distributed among the 4 major parties (Radicals (2), Social Democrats (2), Christian Democrats (2) and Democratic Union (1). These four parties represent approximately 75% of the people’s vote, something that means that the largest percentage of the people and of the pressure groups (forums) participate with their representatives in the Federal government. In addition, in this procedure religious balances as well as the aforementioned provision of article 96 of the Constitution that only one Minister may be appointed by the same canton are taken into consideration.

From the above mentioned, it becomes obvious that a very small margin of manoeuvre exists for the election of a Minister. In practice finding the right person who must be of the right party, the particular area of origin, the right sex, the necessary religion and the right mother tongue proves difficult[7]

From the above it is perceived that to all the other peculiarities of the Swiss phenomenon, the particular interior political life must be added, which is a reflection of a complex and polysynthetic society, evolutively formed.

6.         Review of the Constitution

The Swiss Constitution provides that it may, at any time, be reviewed – fully or partially – through the federal legislative procedure or with a popular initiative. The review is finally put to the people for approval by plebiscite. Apart from the popular majority, approval by the majority of the cantons is also required[8].

More specifically, if one of the two Houses votes for a full review, but the other House does not agree, or if 50,000 citizens are requesting a review, then if a review is to occur is decided by a plebiscite of the entire body. If it is decided to have a review then the two Houses are dissolved and two new reviewing Houses are elected.

The partial review is achieved either through the federal legislative procedure or with popular initiative. If such an initiative is manifested – and if the two Houses agree – then the legislation is prepared and submitted for approval to the people and the cantons.

Namely, we see that a review of the Swiss Constitution is hard enough and arduous. This emanates from the need of stability and the need for respect of the fine balances that constitute the Swiss phenomenon.

During the last 10 years an effort for a substantial review of the Swiss Constitution aiming at making the distribution of powers clearer and in increasing the effectiveness of the executive power at its two levels has been undertaken – and nearly completed. In conclusion, the fundamental constitutional balances of the constitution of 1848 are

7.         Judicial power

In matters of criminal law, every citizen is under the legislative jurisdiction of the canton of residence (article 46).

According to the Constitution the central federal agencies of the Judicial power were established for the delivery of justice (» to the extent that this is a federal concern») (article 106).

The members of the federal court are elected by the federal assembly, and care is taken so that all three official languages of the federation are represented.

The federal court dispenses justice among other areas, to the following areas (article 110):

  1. Differences between the confederation and the cantons.
  1. Differences between the Confederation and companies or individuals, if this is required by the nature (importance) of the difference.
  1. Differences between cantons.
  1. Differences between cantons and companies or individuals, if it is required.
  1. Other matters (article 111) if the two parties wish and if this is required by the importance of the matter.
  1. The Federal Court decides – with the help of jurors – in matters of criminal law concerning :
  • Treason against the confederation, rebellion and force against the federal authorities.
  • Crimes and offences against the law of nations.
  • Political crimes and acts which provoke armed federal intervention.

 

  • Charges against officers appointed by the federal authorities, if these are referred to the federal court.

In addition, the Federal Court hears the following:

  1. Differences concerning the responsibilities of federal and canton authorities.
  1. Differences between cantons on matters of public law.
  1. Appeals for violation of the constitutional rights of citizens and international treaties.
  1. Administrative differences determined by federal legislation are exempted.

In all the aforementioned cases, the Federal Court bases it decisions on all the binding laws in the international treaties adopted by the National Assembly.

The Federal Court has jurisdiction of defining the jurisdiction concerning the uniform application of laws in the following areas:

  • Civil Law
  • All legal matters relating to commerce and transactions of personal property.
  • Inventions and copyright in art and literature.
  • Appeals for debt and bankruptcies.

8.         Relationship of Central and Federal laws

In this area, the matters concerning us directly are the problems of residuary and implied powers. As aforementioned, the cession of residuary powers to the cantons serves the expedience of securing the fine socio-political balances that allow the Swiss confederation to survive and develop. This principle though is not inviolable.

Repeatedly, constitutional reviews that transferred to the federal authorities responsibilities not determined in the original constitution have been agreed. We give the civil aviation as an example, which through an amendment to the constitution, was transferred to the Federal Government and not the cantons.

Explicit powers are those manifestly given by the Constitution and implied those which without being referred to explicitly by the Constitution are implied by several of its provisions. The Swiss Constitution (article 3) provides that the cantons exercise all the rights «not transferred to the federation», without saying «all the rights that explicitly have been transferred to the federation». In this way the criteria of interpretation for each case are introduced, so that the Federation finally has at its disposal all the responsibilities deemed essential for the fulfilment of its responsibilities and duties provided by the Constitution for the Federal agencies. For example, it has been accepted that the Federation has the right to enact provisions of the criminal law to punish breaches of other laws that it has the right to enact.

Generally speaking , as already mentioned, the relationship between the central and the regional laws developed through time according to the functional needs of the state, with a tendency to centralise in many new areas. The federal agencies preserve and increase their legislative and executive powers in the foreign affairs policy, the customs, the monetary policy, the post office and the telecommunications.

From the other side, the execution of federal programs by the authorities of the cantons leads to the development of their authorities by stages. Thus, we see the peculiarity of, from one hand, the development of legislative centralisation (in the central agencies) and from the other hand of the decentralisation of the execution of decisions ( by the authorities of the cantons mainly in areas concerning the locals daily life).

The distribution of powers could be divided in four areas:

  1. Those for which only the federal authorities are responsible (for example, customs, issue of notes and coins, post offices, railways, navy, civil aviation, etc.).
  1. Those for which only the cantons are responsible ( for example, police, social benefits, housing funding, religious matters, etc.).
  1. Those for which the federation enacts and the cantons execute (for example, measures and weights, road safety regulations, defence organisation, labour legislation, social security, criminal code, etc.).
  1. Those in which the two levels of power share the legislative responsibilities (for example, taxation, the road system, regulations for shooting and fishing, nursing policy, schools, and education, etc.).

9.         Basic freedoms

      According to the Constitution a citizen who settles permanently in a canton[9] has all the rights of the other citizens of this canton. The Federal law defines – as far as the political and other rights of the citizen are concerned – the difference between settlement and residence[10]. It is implied that all Swiss citizens have the right to settle in any part of the country[11].

As far as commerce and industry are concerned, the federal authorities enact legislation for specific areas, certainly respecting the right of free practice of commerce and industry in the entire country from all the citizens and all the companies. The only exemption is the circumstance of enacting laws for the protection of threatened economic areas and professions, the insurance of the viability and productivity of country areas, the protection of threatened – financially – regions, protection from cartels and monopolies, and finally preventive measures in times of war[12].

The conditions of acquiring and losing the Swiss nationality are regulated with Federal laws[13]. Similarly, the loss of civil rights falls within the jurisdiction of the Federal laws[14].

Panayiotis Ifestos 7/12/1988

 

Main Bibliography

 Constitution Federal de la Confederation Suisse, Edite per la Chancellerie Federale, Berne, 1987.

  1. F. Aubert, Petite histoire constitutionelle de la Suisse, Froncke ed., Berne, 1974.
  2. F. Aubert, Traite de Droit Constitutionelle Suisse, ed. Ides et Colendes, New chates, Suisee, 1967, Vol. 1.
  3. Robert Bowie et Carl Friedrich, Etudes sur le Federalisme, ed. Pinchon et Durand-Auzias, Paris, 1960, tome III.
  4. Ulrich Cloti, Swiss democracy, exception or model? University of Zurich, 1987.
  5. La Swisse, Pouvoirs, puf, no 43, 1987
  6. Dieter FAHRNI, An outline history of Switzerland, Pro-Helvetic, Zurich, 1984.
  7. Jean-Francois AUBERT, Traite de Droit Constitutionel Suisse, ed. Idees et Calendes, Neuchaatel, 1982, tome I, II et supplement 1967 – 82.
  8. Rene Levy, The social structure of Switzerland, Pro-Helevetia, Zurich, 1984.
  9. Can the Confederation Helvetiva be imitated, Government and Opposition, Vol. 23 No. 1, Winter 1986.
  10. Jean Monniex, Les Principes et les regles constitutionelss de la Politioque etrangere Swisse, Univ. de Neuchaatel, 1986.
  11. La Swisse, Pouvoire, No. 43. 1987.
  12. Dr Antis Pantelidis, Federal Constitution and the distribution of Powers and Responsibilities between the Federation and the States, Nicosia 1983.

 [1] With the exception of the under development Belgian case, and the one of the Socialist Republics, which are governed by a different sociopolitical system.

[2] Switzerland is composed of 26 cantons, 6 of which are half-cantons. The population percentages according to their mother tongue are: German 65%, French 18%, Italian 10%, others 7%. In 19 cantons the majority is German speakers, in 6 French speakers and in one Italian speakers.

[3] Without doubt the state entity of the Swiss state has in a great degree been consolidated in the international system and the conscience of the people who compose the Swiss state. However, whoever has talked to Swiss people will realise that the «national identity» and a certain empathy between the ethnic elements has not been wiped out completely. Some people are certainly wondering what will happen if at any time the Swiss state faces financial problems, as it occurred recently with Belgium where the unity of this state is threatened.

[4] Article 2 provides that the purpose of the «Confederation» is to safeguard the independence of the country, to keep the interior peace and order, to protect the freedom and the rights of the federation’s citizens and to promote their welfare.

[5] As for example, education, research, health, civil aviation, atomic energy.

[6] As for example, civil defence.

[7] As aforementioned the fulfilment of all these criteria is pursued – some written other unwritten – so that balance can be achieved between cantons, ethnic origins, sex, religion, economic interests and political parties.

[8] Here too, we see that the ethnic criterion does not interfere/not affected. In the financial area the review was concerned mostly with regional development problems rather than with ethnic or linguistic matters. Despite the fact that the cantons remain the main pole of political negotiation as far as the traditional local/regional matters are concerned some amendments reflect the need for further centralisation.

[9]  As far as the right to vote in canton and local government matters is concerned, it is acquired 3 months after permanent settlement.

[10] Article 47 of the Constitution

[11] Amendment of article 48 of the Constitution made in 1979.

[12] Article 31 of the Constitution

[13] Article 44 of the Constitution

[14] Article 61 of the Constitution.

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Κατηγορίες:Δοκίμια, Εισβολή Κύπρος 1974, Κυπριακό, Κύπρος, Παναγιώτης Ήφαιστος, κυπριακό ζήτημα

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