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Unformatted text preview: and the communes (with total of 64 % and 82 %
respectively). The item “other social insurance” (mainly family allowances) is cantonal (51 %). This type of vertical
assignment exists for almost all sub-functions, but it differs within each individual Cantons between the cantonal and the
The general trend in the division of responsibilities between the three layers of government has almost not changed for
the last thirty years. When one particular function requires more resources relative to others, the growth of expenditures
for that function runs almost parallel in the three levels. This is a very conservative situation. The various attempts to
modify the existing constitutional division of tasks between the federal government and the Cantons have either
invariably and lamentably failed or produced insignificant results.7 Changes in the relative position of the three tiers may
however happen, due essentially to external circumstances. For example, with the economic crisis of the nineties, the
federal government was first faced with higher unemployment. Thereafter, the Cantons were concerned with individual
social aid because individual unemployment often persisted longer than the period of unemployment benefits. Whereas
the individual social assistance of the Cantons represented only 66 % of the communal expenditures for this function in
1988, it has doubled in ten years and raised to almost the same amount (97 %) in 1998. In fact, in this period the burden
of the financial solution has shifted from the local to the cantonal level. This experience will certainly shape the future of
7 68 See the following reports from ad hoc or special committees: Stocker Report 1966 on the revision of federal conditional grants and subsidies, the
special reports for a new assignment of functions and responsibilities between the Confederation and the Cantons, first bunch of measures in 1971,
second bunch of measures in 1978. In the actual proposal regarding the New Fiscal Equalisation, the chapter concerning a new (vertical and
horizontal) division of functions between the Center and the Cantons is heavily and fiercely debated. Commission on Fiscal Imbalance this particular task and its assignment at the federal (unemployment insurance) and the cantonal levels (individual social
allowances), with the main responsibility being taken away from the communes. 3.3.2. Subsidiarity The fundamental principle in the distribution of tasks between the various levels of government is subsidiarity.
Competencies are vested at the local level and can be transferred to the cantonal level only insofar that the lower level is
no longer in a position to provide a service "efficiently". In most cantons, a constitutional amendment decided by popular
vote or, at least, a law decided by the cantonal parliament, sometimes subject to referendum, is necessary. The same
principle is valid between the cantonal and federal levels. A transfer of competence from the Cantons to the federal
government must be passed by constitutional law, with a double majority vote of the people and the Cantons.
Sure, it has not been too difficult to reach agr...
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