Federalism: too perfect a culprit

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The end of 2020 has not been an easy time for federalism. Accused of having been one of the vectors of the increase in the number of Covid-19 infections from the end of October because of the chaos that would have reigned between the cantons, he was then blamed because ‘he would have authorized injustice in Switzerland. Source of this second wrath: the vote of November 19 of course, which saw the initiative on responsible companies stumble on the double majority required for any modification of the Constitution. Honey, however, in the ears of the contemptors of federalism who took advantage of this defeat at the ballot box to denounce what they consider to be a residue of a rural Switzerland that no longer exists …

Are these accusations justified? Federalism, by its structure and its constraints, is a complex mechanism. Indeed, above the strictly arithmetic equality that is often confused with democracy, it tackles the question of the defense of minorities, central in democracy, from another angle, in this case through the original entities. of the Confederation, these cantons which represent Switzerland in its diversity. This Switzerland functions, even the health crisis has shown, like a conglomerate of laboratories in search of solutions that others can use successfully. Cantonal autonomy only makes sense with governments endowed with “real” competences: it is then that this “proximity”, which we so often demand and which we all the same recognize in federalism, can deploy its beneficial effects, and not with a too powerful “center”.