Frederic Austin Ogg.

The governments of Europe online

. (page 50 of 82)
Online LibraryFrederic Austin OggThe governments of Europe → online text (page 50 of 82)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

described briefly in Lowell, Governments and
Parties, II., Chap. 4, and at more length in King
and Okey, Italy To-day, Chaps. 1-3. Special works
of importance upon the subject include M.
Minghetti, I partiti politici e la ingerenza loro
nella giustizia e nell' amministrazione (2d ed.,
Bologna, 1881); P. Penciolelli, Le gouvernement
parlementaire et la lutte des partis en Italie
(Paris, 1911); and S. Sighele, Il nazionalismo e i
partiti politici (Milan, 1911). Of value are R.
Bonfadini, I partiti parlamentari, in _Nuova
Antologia_, Feb. 15, 1894, and A. Torresin,
Statistica delle elezioni generali politiche, in
_La Riforma Sociale_, Aug. 15, 1900. A useful
biography is W. J. Stillman, Francesco Crispi
(London, 1899), and an invaluable repository of
information is M. Prichard-Agnetti (trans.), The
Memoirs of Francesco Crispi, 2 vols. (New York,
1912). On the parties of the Extreme Left the
following may profitably be consulted: F. S. Nitti,
Il partito radicale (Turin and Rome, 1907); P.
Villari, Scritti sulla questione sociale in Italia
(Florence, 1902); R. Bonghi, Gli ultimi fatti
parlamentari, in _Nuova Antologia_, Jan. 1, 1895;
G. Alessio, Partiti e programmi, ibid., Oct. 16,
1900; G. Louis-Jaray, Le socialisme municipal en
Italie, in _Annales des Sciences Politiques_, May,
1904; R. Meynadier, Les partis d'extrême gauche et
la monarchie en Italie, in _Questions Diplomatiques
et Coloniales_, April 1, 1908; F. Magri, Riformisti
e rivoluzionari nel partito socialista italiano, in
_Rassegna Nazionale_, Nov. 16, 1906, and April 1,
1907; R. Soldi, Le varie correnti nel partito
socialista italiano, in _Giornale degli
Economisti_, June, 1903. On recent Italian
elections see G. Gidel, Les élections générales
italiennes de novembre 1904, in _Annales des
Sciences Politiques_, Jan., 1905; P.
Quentin-Bauchart, Les élections italiennes de mars
1909, ibid., July, 1909.]





Among the governments of contemporary Europe that of the federal
republic of Switzerland is unique; and the constitutional experiments
which have been, and are being, undertaken by the Swiss people give
the nation an importance for the student of politics altogether out of
proportion to its size and population. Nowhere in our day have been
put to the test in more thoroughgoing fashion the principles of
federalism, of a plural executive, of proportional representation, of
the initiative and the referendum, and, it may be said, of radical
democracy in general. The results attained within a sphere so
restricted, and under conditions of race, religion, and historical
tradition so unusual, may or may not be accepted as evidence of the
universal practicability of these principles. At the least, they are
of acknowledged interest.

*447. The Confederation in the Eighteenth Century.* - In the form in
which it exists to-day the Swiss Confederation is a product of the
middle and later nineteenth century. The origins of it, however, are
to be traced to a very much remoter period. Beginning with the
alliance of the three forest cantons of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden
in 1291,[579] the Confederation was built up through the gradual creation
of new cantons, the splitting of old ones, the reorganization of (p. 406)
dependent territories, and the development of a federal governmental
system, superimposed upon the constitutional arrangements of the
affiliated states. In 1789, when the French Directory, at the
instigation of Napoleon, took it upon itself to revolutionize
Switzerland, the Confederation consisted of thirteen cantons.[580]
With it were associated certain _Zugewandte Orte_, or allied
districts, some of which eventually were erected into cantons,
together with a number of _Gemeine Vogteien_, or subject territories.
The Confederation comprised simply a _Staatenbund_, or league of
essentially autonomous states. Its only organ of common action was a
diet, in which each canton had a right to one vote. Save in matters of
a purely advisory nature, the powers of this diet were meager indeed.
Of the cantons, some were moderately democratic; others were highly
aristocratic. The political institutions of all were, in large
measure, such as had survived from the Middle Ages.

[Footnote 579: For an English version of the
Perpetual League of 1291 see Vincent, Government in
Switzerland, 285-288. The best account in English
of the origins of the Confederation is contained in
W. D. McCrackan, The Rise of the Swiss Republic (2d
ed., New York, 1901). Important are A. Rilliet, Les
origines de la confédération suisse (Geneva, 1868);
P. Vauchier, Les commencements de la confédération
suisse (Lausanne, 1891); W. Oechsli, Die Anfange
der schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft (Zürich,
1891). Of the last-mentioned excellent work there
is a French translation, under the title Les
origines de la confédération suisse (Bern, 1891).
The origins of the Swiss Confederation were
described in a scientific manner for the first time
in the works of J. E. Kopp: Urkunden zur Geschichte
der eidgenössischen Bünde (Leipzig and Berlin,
1835), and Geschichte der eidgenössischen Bünde
(Leipzig and Berlin, 1845-1852). The texts of all
of the Swiss alliances to 1513 are printed in J.
von Ah, Die Bundesbriefe der alten Eidgenossen
(Einsiedeln, 1891).]

[Footnote 580: Lucerne joined the alliance in 1332;
Zürich in 1351; Glarus and Zug in 1352; Bern in
1353; Freiburg and Solothurn in 1481; Basel and
Schaffhausen in 1501; and Appenzell in 1513. "Swiss
history is largely the history of the drawing
together of bits of each of the Imperial kingdoms
(Germany, Italy, and Burgundy) for common defense
against a common foe - the Hapsburgs; and, when this
family have secured to themselves the permanent
possession of the Empire, the Swiss league little
by little wins its independence of the Empire,
practically in 1499, formally in 1648. Originally a
member of the Empire, the Confederation becomes
first an ally, then merely a friend." Encyclopedia
Britannica, 11th ed., XXVI., 246.]

*448. The Helvetic Republic.* - The result of the French intervention of
1798 was that, almost instantly, the loosely organized Swiss
confederation was converted into a centralized republic, tributary to
France, and under a constitution which was substantially a
reproduction of the French instrument of 1795. Under the terms of this
constitution the territories of the Confederation were split up into
twenty-three administrative districts, corresponding in but rare
instances to the earlier cantons,[581] a uniform Swiss citizenship was
established, a common suffrage was introduced, freedom of speech and
of the press was guaranteed, and unity was provided for in the
coinage, the postal service, and the penal law. A government of ample
powers was set up, with its seat at Lucerne, its organs comprising a
Grand Council of deputies elected indirectly in the cantons in
proportion to population, a Senate of four delegates from each canton
(together with retiring members of the Directory), and an Executive
Directory of five members, with whom were associated, for (p. 407)
administrative purposes, four appointed heads of departments. The
French intervention was ruthless and the governmental order thrust
upon the Swiss had no root in national tradition or interest. The
episode served, however, to break the shackles of mediævalism and thus
to contribute to the eventual establishment of a modernized
nationality. July 2, 1802, following a series of grave civil
disturbances, the constitution of 1798 was superseded by a new but
similar instrument, which was imposed by force despite an adverse
popular vote.[582]

[Footnote 581: To these districts, however, the
name canton was applied; and, indeed, this was the
first occasion upon which the name was employed
officially in Switzerland.]

[Footnote 582: McCrackan, Rise of the Swiss
Republic, 295-312; A. von Tillier, Geschichte der
helvetischen Republik, 3 vols. (Bern, 1843); Muret,
L'Invasion de la Suisse en 1798 (Lausanne,
1881-1884); L. Marsauche, La confédération
helvétique (Neuchâtel, 1890).]

*449. The Act of Mediation, 1803.* - Under the circumstances reaction was
inevitable, and the triumph of the "federalists" came more speedily
than might have been expected. In deference to preponderating
sentiment in the territories, Napoleon, February 19, 1803, promulgated
the memorable Act of Mediation, whereby he authorized the
re-establishment of a political system that was essentially
federal.[583] Once again there was set up a loose confederation, under
a constitution which, however, provided for a central government that
was distinctly more substantial than that which had prevailed prior to
1798. The right, for example, to make war and to conclude treaties,
withdrawn entirely from the individual cantons, was conferred
specifically upon the federal Diet. To the thirteen original cantons
were added six new ones - Aargau, Thurgau, Vaud, Ticino, and the
Grisons (St. Gall and Graubünden) - the first four formed from
districts which under the old régime had occupied the status of
subordinate territory, the last two having been formerly "allied
states." In the Diet six cantons (Bern, Zürich, Vaud, Aargau, St.
Gall, and Graubünden) which had a population in excess of 100,000 were
given each two votes. All others retained a right to but one. The
executive authority of the Confederation was vested by turns in the
six cantons of Bern, Freiburg, Lucerne, Zürich, Basel and Solothurn,
the "directorial" canton being known as the _Vorort_, and its chief
magistrate as the _Landammann_, of the Confederation. The principle of
centralization was in large part abandoned; but the equality of civil
rights which the French had introduced was not allowed by Napoleon to
be molested. It may be observed further that by the accession of the
newly created cantons, containing large bodies of people who spoke
French, Italian, and Romansch, the league ceased to be so (p. 408)
predominantly German as theretofore it had been.[584]

[Footnote 583: It is in this instrument that the
Confederation was for the first time designated
officially as "Switzerland."]

[Footnote 584: Cambridge Modern History, IX., Chap.
4 (bibliography, pp. 805-807). The best general
work on the period 1798-1813 is W. Oechsli,
Geschichte der Schweiz im XIX. Jahrhundert
(Leipzig, 1903), I.]

*450. The Pact of 1815 and the Revival of Particularism.* - The Act of
Mediation, on the whole not unacceptable to the majority of the Swiss
people, save in that it had been imposed by a foreign power, continued
in operation until 1813. During the decade Switzerland was essentially
tributary to France. With the fall of Napoleon the situation was
altered, and December 29, 1813, fourteen of the cantons, through their
representatives assembled at Zürich, declared the instrument to be no
longer in effect. Led by Bern, eight of the older cantons determined
upon a return to the system in operation prior to 1798, involving the
reduction of the six most recently created cantons to their former
inferior status. Inspired by the Tsar Alexander I., however, the
majority of the Allies refused to approve this programme, and, after
the Congress of Vienna had arranged for the admission to the
confederacy of the three allied districts of Valais, Geneva, and
Neuchâtel, there was worked out, by the Swiss themselves, a
constitution known as the "Federal Pact," which was formally approved
by the twenty-two cantons at Zürich, August 7, 1815.[585]

[Footnote 585: This statement needs to be qualified
by the observation that the half-canton Nidwalden
approved the constitution August 30, and only when
compelled by force to do so.]

By this instrument the ties which bound the federation together were
still further relaxed. The cantons regained almost the measure of
independence which they had possessed prior to the French
intervention. The Diet was maintained, on the basis now of one vote
for each canton, regardless of size or population.[586] It possessed
some powers, - for example, that of declaring war or peace, with the
consent of three-fourths of the cantons, - but there were virtually no
means by which the body could enforce the decrees which it enacted.
The executive authority of the Confederation was vested in the
governments of the three cantons of Zürich, Lucerne, and Bern, which,
it was stipulated, should serve in rotation, each during a period of
two years. Practically all of the guarantees of common citizenship,
religious toleration, and individual liberty which the French had
introduced were rescinded, and during the decade following 1815 the
trend in most of the more important cantons was not only particularistic
but also distinctly reactionary. The smaller and poorer ones (p. 409)
retained largely their democratic institutions, especially their
Landesgemeinden, or primary assemblies, but it was only after 1830,
and in some measure under the stimulus of the revolutionary movements
of that year, that the majority of the cantonal governments underwent
that regeneration in respect to the suffrage and the status of the
individual which lay behind the transforming movements of 1848.[587]

[Footnote 586: Three of the cantons - Unterwalden,
Basel, and Appenzell - were divided into
half-cantons, each with a government of its own;
but each possessed only half a vote in the Diet.]

[Footnote 587: B. Van Muyden, La suisse sous le
pacte de 1815, 2 vols. (Lausanne and Paris,
1890-1892); A. von Tillier, Geschichte der
Eidgenossenschaft während der sogen.
Restaurationsepoche, 1814-1830, 3 vols. (Bern and
Zürich, 1848-1850); ibid., Geschichte der
Eidgenossenschaft während der Zeit des
sogeheissenen Fortschritts, 1830-1846, 3 vols.
(Bern, 1854-1855).]

*451. Attempted Constitutional Revision: the Sonderbund.* - The period
between 1830 and 1848 was marked by not fewer than thirty revisions of
cantonal constitutions, all in the direction of broader
democracy.[588] The purposes of the liberal leaders of the day,
however, extended beyond the democratization of the individual
cantons. The thing at which they aimed ultimately was the
establishment, through the strengthening of the Confederation, of a
more effective nationality. On motion of the canton of Thurgau, a
committee was authorized in 1832 to draft a revision of the Pact. The
instrument which resulted preserved the federal character of the
nation, but provided for a permanent federal executive, a federal
court of justice, and the centralization of the customs, postal
service, coinage, and military instruction. By a narrow majority this
project, in 1833, was defeated. It was too radical to be acceptable to
the conservatives, and not sufficiently so to please the advanced

[Footnote 588: McCracken, Rise of the Swiss
Republic, 325-330.]

The obstacles to be overcome - native conservatism, intercantonal
jealousy, and ecclesiastical heterogeneity - were tremendous. More than
once the Confederation seemed on the point of disruption. In
September, 1843, the seven Catholic cantons[589] entered into an
alliance, known as the Sonderbund, for the purpose of defending their
peculiar interests, and especially of circumventing any reorganization
of the confederacy which should involve the lessening of Catholic
privilege; and, in December, 1845, this affiliation was converted into
an armed league. In July, 1847, the Diet, in session at Bern, decreed
the dissolution of the Sonderbund; but the recalcitrant cantons
refused to abandon the course upon which they had entered, and it was
only after an eighteen-day armed conflict that the obstructive league
was suppressed.[590]

[Footnote 589: Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden,
Zug, Freiburg, and the Valais.]

[Footnote 590: A. Stern, Zur Geschichte des
Sonderbundes, in _Historische Zeitschrift_, 1879;
W. B. Duffield, The War of the Sonderbund, in
_English Historical Review_, Oct., 1895; and P.
Matter, Le Sonderbund, in _Annales de l'École Libre
des Sciences Politiques_, Jan. 15, 1896.]

*452. The Constitution of 1848 and the Revision of 1874.* - The war (p. 410)
was worth while, because the crisis which it precipitated afforded
the liberals an opportunity to bring about the adoption of a wholly
new constitution. For a time the outlook was darkened by the
possibility of foreign intervention, but by the outbreak of the
revolution of 1848 at Paris that danger was effectually removed. The
upshot was that, through the agency of a committee of fourteen,
constituted, in fact, February 17, 1848 - one week prior to the
overthrow of Louis Philippe - the nationalists proceeded to incorporate
freely the reforms they desired in a constitutional _projet_, and this
instrument the Diet forthwith revised slightly and placed before the
people for acceptance. By a vote of 15-1/2 cantons (with a population
of 1,900,000) to 6-1/2 (with a population of 290,000), the new
constitution was approved.

The adoption of the constitution of 1848, ensuring a modified revival
of the governmental régime of 1798-1803, comprised a distinct victory
for the Radical, or Centralist, party. During the two decades which
followed this party maintained complete control of the federal
government, and in 1872 it brought forward the draft of a new
constitution whose centralizing tendencies were still more pronounced.
By popular vote this proffered constitution was rejected. Another
draft, however, was prepared and, April 19, 1874, by a vote of 14-1/2
cantons against 7-1/2, it was adopted. The popular vote was 340,149 to
198,013. Amended subsequently upon a large number of occasions,[591]
the instrument of 1874 is the fundamental law of the Swiss
Confederation to-day, although it is essential to observe that it
represents only a revision of the constitution of 1848. As a recent
writer has said, "the one region on the continent to which the storms
of 1848 brought immediate advantage was Switzerland, for to them it
owes its transformation into a well-organized federal state."[592]

[Footnote 591: For the methods of constitutional
amendment see p. 431.]

[Footnote 592: W. Oechsli, in Cambridge Modern
History, XI., 234. A brief survey of the
constitutional history of Switzerland from 1848 to
1874 is contained in Chap. 8 of the volume
mentioned (bibliography, pp. 914-918). Two
excellent works are C. Hilty, Les constitutions
fédérales de la confédération suisse; exposé
historique (Neuchâtel, 1891), and T. Curti,
Geschichte der Schweiz im XIX. Jahrhundert
(Neuchâtel, 1902). A fairly satisfactory book is L.
Hug and R. Stead, Switzerland (New York, 1889). The
text of the constitution may be found in S. Kaiser
and J. Strickler, Geschichte und Texte der
Bundesverfassungen der schweizerischen
Eidgenossenschaft von der helvetischen
Staatsumwälzung bis zur Gegenwart (Bern, 1901), and
in Lowell, Governments and Parties, II., 405-431.
English versions are printed in Dodd, Modern
Constitutions, II., 257-290; McCrackan, Rise of the
Swiss Republic, 373-403; Vincent, Government in
Switzerland, 289-332; and Old South Leaflets,
General Series, No. 18. The texts of all federal
constitutions after 1798 are included in the work
of Kaiser and Strickler. A good collection of
recent documents is P. Wolf, Die schweizerische
Bundesgesetzgebung (2d ed., Basel, 1905-1908). The
principal treatises on the Swiss constitutional
system are J. J. Blumer, Handbuch des
schweizerischen Bundesstaatsrechtes (2d ed.,
Schaffhausen, 1877-1887); J. Schollenberger,
Bundesverfassung der schweizerischen
Eidgenossenschaft (Berlin, 1905); ibid., Das
Bundesstaatsrecht der Schweiz Geschichte und System
(Berlin, 1902); and W. Burckhardt, Kommentar der
Schweiz; Bundesverfassung vom 29 Mai 1874 (Bern,
1905). Two excellent briefer treatises are N. Droz,
Instruction civique (Lausanne, 1884) and A. von
Orelli, Das Staatsrecht der schweizerischen
Eidgenossenschaft (Freiburg, 1885), in
Marquardsen's Handbuch. The best treatise in
English upon the Swiss governmental system is J. M.
Vincent, Government in Switzerland (New York,
1900). Older works include B. Moses, The Federal
Government of Switzerland (Oakland, 1889); F. Adams
and C. Cunningham, The Swiss Confederation (London,
1889); and B. Winchester, The Swiss Republic
(Philadelphia, 1891). Mention should be made of A.
B. Hart, Introduction to the Study of Federal
Government (Boston, 1891); also of an exposition of
Swiss federalism in Dicey, Law of the Constitution,
7th ed., 517-529.]


*453. Dominance of the Federal Principle.* - In its preamble the Swiss
constitution proclaims its object to be "to confirm the alliance of
the Confederation and to maintain and to promote the unity, strength,
and honor of the Swiss nation;" and in its second article it affirms
that it is the purpose of the Confederation "to secure the
independence of the country against foreign nations, to maintain peace
and order within, to protect the liberty and the rights of the
confederates, and to foster their common welfare."[593] The use of the
term "nation" (which, curiously, nowhere occurs in the constitution of

Online LibraryFrederic Austin OggThe governments of Europe → online text (page 50 of 82)