More people and more classes

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More people ( French du peuple majorité , Italian maggioranza del Popolo , Romansh maioritad dal pievel ) and cantons ( French majorité the cantons , Italian maggioranza dei Cantoni , Romansh maioritad dals chantuns ) are terms from the Swiss Federal Constitutional Law . A to accept a proposal submitted must in addition to the popular majority (majority of the valid voting citizens) in certain cases, the majority of stands (d. E. TheCantons ) agree to a proposal.

Roots of the estates

The roots of the multi-estates lie in the historical autonomy of the cantons in the old Confederation . Until the French invasion of 1798, the only federal organ was the daily statute , in which each estate had one vote regardless of the number of inhabitants. During this time, federal issues were decided exclusively by the majority of the cantons.

After the French invasion and the failure of the centrally organized Helvetic Republic , the daily statute was reintroduced with mediation in 1803. Here, too, voting was carried out according to status; however, the votes of the six largest cantons had twice the weight.

After the defeat of Napoleon , the daily statute in the federal treaty of 1815 again became the only federal organ. Even under the federal treaty, only the number of cantons was decisive in votes; the votes of all the estates were again equal.

When the federal state was created in 1848, after the experience with the Helvetic Republic , the cantons wanted to ensure that a centralized constitution would not come about again over their heads , which is why a two-chamber parliament was set up with representatives from the people and the cantons. In this way the principle of federalism should be taken into account.

As early as the first federal constitution of 1848, the number of estates was anchored twice. On the one hand, the approval of both chambers of parliament was necessary for the legislation, i.e. the majority of the canton's representatives in the Council of States had to agree (Art. 77). However, the cantons' representation in the Council of States was weakened to the extent that the Council of States did not have to adhere to the instructions of their cantons as in the daily statutes (Art. 79). On the other hand, in the event of a constitutional revision, a referendum was planned in which the majority of the cantons would have to approve a new constitution so that it could come into force (Art. 114).

In 1891 the possibility of a partial revision of the federal constitution by parliament or on the initiative of the voters was introduced. With Art. 121 of the Federal Constitution of 1874, the cadres received the most important function today in referendums on constitutional amendments. It was not until the Federal Constitution of 1999 that the number of estates extended to include membership of organizations of collective security or supranational communities (Art. 140).


According to Article 140, Paragraph 1 of the Federal Constitution (BV), the majority of estates is required in addition to the majority of the people:

  • Acceptance of an amendment to the Federal Constitution (via popular initiative or mandatory referendum )
  • Joining organizations of collective security or supranational communities
  • urgently declared federal laws without a constitutional basis with a validity of over one year

In the case of optional referendums , the majority of the people is sufficient to accept the proposal, since these always concern laws and never the constitution.

Determination of the number of stands

For historical reasons, the six former half-cantons of Obwalden , Nidwalden , Basel-Stadt , Basel-Landschaft , Appenzell Ausserrhoden and Appenzell Innerrhoden each have half a professional vote (Art. 142 (4) BV), the other 20 cantons each have a full professional vote. This results in 23 professional votes.

The number of estates in a submission is achieved when a majority of the esteem votes is achieved. A tie, i.e. 11.5 to 11.5 professional votes (11 to 11 before the canton of Jura was founded in 1979), counts as a rejection.

At the beginning of the modern federal state in 1848, each canton could decide for itself how its class vote was determined. In the canton of Ticino , for example, the rule was that the cantonal parliament , the “Grand Council”, cast its own vote, which did not necessarily have to agree with the majority of the people.

In the meantime, the federal regulation applies that the professional vote is identical to the majority of the popular vote in the canton concerned: If a majority of the citizens voting agrees to a proposal, this is considered to be a positive professional vote. If the majority of those who vote rejects the proposal, this will be assessed as a negative professional vote (Art. 142, Paragraph 3 BV).

Effects in practice

Since a majority of people and cantons is required for constitutional changes, the custodians can repeal a majority of the people who approve. Conversely, a proposal can also be rejected if it is approved by the majority of the cantons but no longer reaches the people. The largest majority of the people to date that failed due to the majority of the cantons was 55.4 percent and the largest majority of the groups to date with a negative majority of the people was 16.5: 6.5 (see below).

In practice, people and estates rarely do not agree. If this is the case, however, then a no to the cantons benefits the small, rural and rather conservative cantons of German-speaking Central and Eastern Switzerland over the large urban agglomerations and French-speaking Switzerland . In contrast, a vote against by the people prefers the large agglomerations and cantons over the small rural cantons (although voting is often similar in the large cities and in French-speaking Switzerland).

A problem under democratic law is that one vote from the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden (15,000 inhabitants, half a professional vote ) has 40.95 times more weight than one from the canton of Zurich (1,228,600 inhabitants, one professional vote) ). Although this fact has been criticized again and again, there is broad consensus that more than one of the pillars of Swiss federalism should not be shaken. In addition, since any change in the current state of affairs would depend on the achievement of the majority of the cantons in the final vote, it is unrealistic to abolish this regulation.

Templates that failed despite the majority of the people due to the number of estates

  • 1866: compulsory referendum on measure and weight: 50.4% yes, but class more 9.5: 12.5
  • 1955: Popular initiative «Tenant and Consumer Protection»: 50.2% yes, but more 7:15
  • 1970: compulsory referendum on financial regulations: 55.4% yes, but more 9:13
  • 1973: compulsory referendum on education: 52.8% yes, but class more 10.5: 11.5
  • 1975: mandatory referendum on the business article: 52.8% yes, but more 11:11
  • 1983: Mandatory referendum on the energy article: 50.9% yes, but more 11:12
  • 1994: compulsory referendum on cultural articles: 51.0% yes, but more 11:12
  • 1994: compulsory referendum facilitated naturalization: 52.8% yes, but class more 10:13
  • 2013: mandatory referendum on family articles: 54.3% yes, but status more 10:13

Templates that failed despite the majority of the cantons due to the popular majority

  • 1910: People's initiative “Proportional election of the National Council”: 47.5% yes, but more 12:10
  • 1957: compulsory referendum on civil protection article: 48.1% yes, but categorization more 14: 8
  • 2002: Popular initiative “Against the abuse of the right to asylum”: 49.9% yes, but categorization 12.5: 10.5
  • 2016: Popular initiative “For marriage and the family - against the marriage penalty” : 49.2% yes, but class more 16.5: 6.5

See also

Web links