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Unformatted text preview: , as “principal”. The Cantons, as “agents”, decide the form and how they intend to implement those services.
Usually, these are in turn assigned to the local tier. There is no duplication of similar producing organisations at the
decentralised levels. There is no doubt that the opportunity to create inter-communal institutions has been largely used by the communes and
has improved efficiency in producing and delivering local public services. But the multiplicity of inter-communal special
purpose districts has also created many institutional problems: a democratic deficit in the regime of communal assembly,
higher information and participation costs for individual citizens who henceforward belong not only to one commune but
to several other "clubs", strategic blockages of votes by negotiating communes when a qualified majority is required, and
the like (DELLA SANTA, 1996). Despite these inconveniences, it may be precisely this executive flexibility of federalism
which has long made it resistant to attempts of centralisation on the part of the federal government vis-à-vis the
Cantons, or on the part of the Cantons vis-à-vis the communes. It also explains why so many small communes can
survive without merging and why the compulsory merging of too small communes is not easily accepted by the citizenry
(DAFFLON, 1996a). 3. THE PUBLIC SECTOR: FACTS AND FIGURES This section summarises the overall present situation of the public sector in Switzerland at the three tiers of government.
All figures are based on 1998. Tables 1 to 11 also exist for the period 1990 to 1997: but there have been no significant
changes over this last decade. Section 3 is divided in four sub-sections: a) general indicators concerning the Cantons, b)
the size and growth of the public sector, c) public expenditures and d) public revenues. Whenever possible, the current
state of research on fiscal federalism in Switzerland is mentioned. 3.1. General indicators
The institutional issues presented in section 2 have of course a price to be paid in terms of economic efficiency and
equity. The solutions and practical arrangements do not exactly correspond to the canon of fiscal federalism in the
textbook. And they do not permit to level out all differences in the economy and the public sector. A few statistical data
will illustrate this argument. Table 1 gives five general indicators about the organisation and the economy of each
Canton: the number of communes, the surface in km2, population, national income in the Cantons (NIC) total and per
capita, public expenditures and revenues.6
Marked differences exist in the organisation of local government, the number of communes, in size, population and
national income, that one probably does not find in another federation (FRENKEL, 1986).
♦ The area of the smallest Canton (Basel-Town, 37 km2 ) is 0.5 per cent of the area of the largest (Grisons, 7 105 km2). ♦ The population in the least populous Canton (Appenzell Rh. Int.; 14 873 residents) is 1.25 per cent of that in the most
populous (Zurich; 1 187 609 residents). ♦ In 1997, the...
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