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Unformatted text preview: ;it shall accomplish the tasks which are attributed to
it by the Constitution."1 Therefore each new competence of the centre requires a constitutional amendment, which
necessitates the consent of both a majority of the voters and a majority of the Cantons. In contrast, article 43 Cst.
stipulates that "the Cantons shall define the tasks which they shall accomplish within the framework of their powers." At
cantonal level, there is no need for a constitutional explicit clarification. The autonomy of the Cantons is also guaranteed
by the legislative power with two Chambers which have equal power (art. 148 Cst.). The National Council (House of
Representatives) is elected on the basis of population in the Cantons according to the system of proportional
representation. The Council of States (the Senate) consists of 46 delegates of the Cantons, two for each canton and one
for each half-canton (Appenzel Rh. Int. and Appenzel Rh. Ext., Basel-City and Basel-Land, Nidwald and Obwald)
whatever its population, size or economic and financial power. The Cantons regulates the election of their Senators.
♦ Up to now, fiscal/financial arrangements have been discussed either at the federal-cantonal levels or at the cantonal-local
levels. The federal government addresses itself always and exclusively to the Cantons. It could not by-pass cantonal
governments to address local governments either to impose or to negotiate fiscal or financial matters or the provision of
public services. The inverse is also true: local governments cannot by-pass cantonal authorities; they have no direct access
to federal bureaux or institutions. In this way, federal decisions concern the Canton only; and each canton organises
communal competencies on its own. This vertical division of power leaves a high degree of autonomy to the Cantons but
also creates problems for the larger municipalities. On one side, the Cantons have their own fiscal systems, which are
independent of the federal system. The Cantons are therefore able to set their own tax rates, and they decide on the
provision of public goods and services on their own. Although the modification procedures are long and complex, each
voter/taxpayer in a canton or in a commune is able in the end to compare the costs and benefits of the public activity under
consideration and to decide on the amount of public expenditure in a vote or in a referendum. On the other side, large
municipalities or agglomerations, like that of Zürich, which alone has more residents than the five neighbouring Cantons,
create spillovers over cantonal boundaries, but have not the ability to negotiate directly over those limits. Although
agglomerations have a statistical definition, and have been an expanding economic reality for the last decade, only the new
1999 Federal Constitution gives them an institutional recognition. What will be the effective consequences of this article is
not yet clear. 2.2. Direct democracy
Direct democracy participation is provided in most c...
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