Quotation (382): Unity through institutions.

So how has the Swiss nation-state, once Utopian idea, become a reality? How was Switzerland able to keep its independence as a political nation and deal with its economic, social and cultural conflicts? And, finally, how was Switzerland able to turn itself into a modern, industrialised nation, and develop a form of democracy that in the nineteenth century went further than in all other European countries?
In saying that Switzerland represents a ‘paradigmatic case of political integration’, I echo the view of Karl Deutsch, a scholar looking at Switzerland from the outside. Indeed Switzerland has become a society with its own identity only through and because of its political institutions. The role of the political institutions was fundamental in uniting a people with four languages, two religions and different regional cultures and in turning these disadvantages into advantages.

Prof. Wolf Linder in his “Swiss Democracy – Possible Solutions to Conflict in Multicultural Societies”, p. 5 (Palgrave Macmillan 2010).

That’s exactly why BBD always stresses the importance of a new, appropriate political and institutional framework (i.e., statehood) to increase cohesion and deal with South Tyrol’s social and cultural conflicts.

  • Sabina

    For me the main question, if at all, seems to be how to prepare the way to statehood.
    At a certain point institutional re-arrangements may foster cohesion. But only at a certain point.
    Cohesion has to be addressed before any institutional changes and also Linder stresses the fact that “the key to this process was integration and a particular way of dealing with conflicts and problems in a peaceful manner.” (2010: 5), emphasizing the necessity of power sharing and continuous negotiation, avoiding the apparent simplicity of majority decisions.


  • Harald Knoflach