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Unformatted text preview: um is compulsory. In the case of legislation, it is optional and may be demanded
through the collection of signatures. Some observers deem direct democracy procedures to have a restrictive effect.
Although little comparative evidence is available in that respect, this hypothesis seems plausible, since votes often
revolve around new programs, and hence new expenditures.
Intergovernmental coordination between the Confederation and the cantons also relies on numerous task forces,
commissions, and conferences of cantonal directors of finance, education, the economy, and so on. Especially fiscal
policy is subject to ongoing negotiation within such coordination structures. 3. IS SWISS FEDERALISM SUBJECT TO IMBALANCE? Swiss and Canadian federalism have important points in common. Not only are the systems in both countries
established federations but also their federalism is rooted in comparable principles. Both systems seek to reconcile
needs for unity and cohabitation with cultural and linguistic diversity and regional and local autonomy. Both systems
have found in federalism a means of pursuing the common good while attributing to regional entities some degree of
autonomy that should enable them to display and develop their unique situations. Both federal systems continue to
engage in self-reflection, in order to call into question established institutions or with a view to perfecting them. 3.1. Horizontal imbalance
Switzerland is made up of 26 cantons, six of which are called half-cantons (they are darker on the map below).
SWISS CANTONS AND HALF-CANTONS
SO JU ZH
LU NE GE ZG
VD AR OW SG
GL UR GR FR VS AI TI The cantons vary markedly in terms of their socio-economic dimensions (see also Dafflon 2001a, 2001b, 1995). The two
most populous cantons, Zurich and Bern, are 70 times bigger than the smallest entity, the canton of Appenzell InnerRhodes. From the standpoint of economic disparities, although it is hard to establish a clear distinction between “rich”
and “poor” cantons (Gaudard 1989), a similar observation can be made. Over 20% of GDP is generated by the Zurich
2 102 Failing agreement, the lowest figure takes precedence. Commission on Fiscal Imbalance canton alone, where 16% of the population lives. In 1998, the gross domestic product of cantons such as Basel-City
(BS) was double that of Jura (JU). The growth rate in the most successful canton (Schwyz, SZ) was six times greater
than in the least successful canton (Bern, BE). The same applies to disparities in income: per capita income in the
wealthiest cantons (Zurich, Zug and Basel-City) is almost double the income in the poorest cantons (Uri, Obwalden,
Thurgau and Jura). The financial capacity index of the cantons varies between 30 and 218 in relation to the Swiss mean
(100). Chart 1 presents the cantons according to their financial capacity in relation to the mean (set here at zero),
ranging from the most privileged to the least privileged.
DISPARITIES IN THE FINANCIAL CAPACITY OF THE CANTONS
-100 -50 0 50 1...
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