Power-sharing institutions in multicultural societies – the case of Switzerland

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How can political power be shared in a multicultural society? And what institutions can make multicultural societies more inclusive, balanced, and give people more control over political decisions and local public goods?

Together with Sean Müller, I discuss power-sharing institutions as a crucial element of the success of Swiss democracy. The development of inclusive institutions was a long and troublesome process that started out with lots of social cleavages. Not only had two conflicting religious groups, the Catholics and the Protestants, to be integrated into democratic agreements, also four languages are spoken in the different regions, and 26 cantons (states) have different cultures and traditions, and each wants to have a say. Switzerland thus was an unlikely case to become a consociational democracy.

We discuss milestones in the development of the Swiss constitution and its democratic institutions. Important power-sharing institutional pillars are federalism, a proportional representation electoral system, a federal council as executive government, and direct democracy.

Dr. Sean Müller is an Assistant Professor at the University of Lausanne, specializing in Swiss and comparative federalism, territorial politics and direct democracy. Our discussion is based on a recently revised edition of the book “Swiss Democracy. Possible Solutions to Conflict in Multicultural Societies”, written by Wolf Linder and Sean Müller.

Find the show notes with links to all material discussed here: https://rulesofthegame.blog/power-sharing-institutions-switzerland/

Find Sean Müller's research on his website: https://people.unil.ch/seanmuller/

Follow Sean Müller on Twitter: https://twitter.com/seanstmllr

Please enjoy this wide ranging conversation with Sean Müller.

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