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Unformatted text preview: have more traditional administrative models.
They maintain a strong participatory cultural and assign numerous duties to non-professional volunteers in conjunction
with commissions and corporations (Linder 1983: 340-341; Urio 1986: 109-111). These differences do not stem solely
from disparities in resources but also from the cantons’ organizational autonomy. The federal Constitution empowers the
cantons to organize their administration, including its municipalities, as they see fit. The same autonomy prevails with
respect to political structures, which, however, have been subject over time to much broader convergence. 3.2. Vertical imbalance
The two variables of vertical imbalance in any federal system are the division of jurisdictions and the distribution of
resources. As for the division of jurisdictions, the Swiss federal Constitution stipulates a strict concept of subsidiarity, i.e.
unless the Constitution attributes a jurisdiction explicitly to the Confederation, it is within the competence of the cantons.
Moreover, the power of the cantons stems from the delegation to them, either by the Constitution, through legislation or
even by means of statutory instrument, of numerous federal responsibilities (see Faganini 1991: 51ss; Delley 1984: 343;
Klöti 1988). In Switzerland, this delegation of implementation to the cantons is referred to as “executive federalism,”
which results from the principle of cooperation that characterizes the Swiss federal system (contrary to the principle of
separation or competition that prevails in more dual federal systems such as Canada). Executive federalism can be
perceived as a vertical imbalance to the extent that the Confederation now is given important decision-making powers,
while the cantons are responsible for executing these responsibilities.
The Confederation has to fight, often unsuccessfully, to obtain new jurisdictions. It achieves this end often by promising
the cantons additional financial resources but leaving them full leeway to implement the responsibilities. Because of this
imbalance, the Swiss federal system has, in the post-war era, simultaneously undergone centralization in respect of
decision-making and decentralization from the standpoint of financial and organizational resources. While growing
numbers of responsibilities have been transferred to the federal government in recent decades, especially in such areas
as land use planning and development, environmental protection and energy policy, the cantons have maintained
considerable power with regard to implementation (Germann 1986: 348; Kriesi 1995; Linder 1983: 335-339; Nüssli 1985:
258-260). This shift has been accompanied by an increase in conditional transfers to the cantons.
Even fields that are formally fairly centralized, such as transportation policy and social security, are in fact administered
by the cantons. Only the public economy (in particular, agriculture) is largely funded by the Confederation despite the
formal sharing of jurisdictions by the two levels (Nüssli 1985: 353). 104 Commission on Fiscal Imbalance TABLE 1
BREAKDOWN OF EXPENDITURES BY FUNCTION
(in %, 1998)
Confederation* Cantons* Communes* Sh...
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