Alfred KölzForderungen nach geschriebener Verfassung

2.29 Alfred Kölz, Neuere Schweizerische Verfassungsgeschichte, Ihre Grundlinien vom Ende der alten Eidgenossenschaft bis 1848, Bern 1992; exerpt: 8. Forderungen nach geschriebener Verfassung, Verfassungsänderung und Verfassungsrat, p. 54-57

[Claims for a written constitution, constitutional amendments and constitutional conventions]

a) background

The excerpt at hand is part of the introduction to the first volume by Alfred Kölz “Neuere Schweizerische Verfassungsgeschichte, ihre Grundlinien vom Ende der Alten Eidgenossenschaft bis 1848“. It deals with the new institutions of government and society of the 18th century and describes the effect of these developments within Switzerland. The excerpt deals with the background of a written constitution, of the change of constitutions and the constitutional convention. In that area, the influence of the developments in America and the later United States are of great importance to Swiss developments. Kölz deals with the idea of a written constitution in the second part of the 18th century. The necessity of a written constitution is closely viewed in the context of the general rationalism and the thinking in systems and principles. Certain key functions had to be taken care of in the writing of a constitution.
Kölz was a Swiss Professor of Law at the University of Zurich. He has written the seminal work on the history of the Swiss constitution in two volumes with two accompanying source books. He was a well-known teacher, as well as an out-of-the-box political thinker. Together with Jürg Paul Müller of the University of Berne he wrote – as part of a student seminar – a basic draft for a new Swiss constitution. He was well known for his political independence as well as his opinions on popular rights and environmental protection.

b) summary

From a historic and political perspective the ideas of a written constitution first materialized in North America, in the states of New Hampshire (1776), North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania (1776), Massachusetts (1780) and under the Union (1787). The key function of the written constitution of the American Union is to link the individual states together and establish independence vis-à-vis England. Kölz draws attention to the fact, that before the common conclusion of the French constitution the “Republic of Geneva” (22nd March 1791) and Poland (3rd May 1971) also introduced written constitutions based upon the French model of 1791. These aspects in Switzerland were modelled after American developments. The state of Georgia is a precursor of the constitutional initiative. The institution of a constitutional convention was institutionalized. Both were introduced first in Pennsylvania (1776) and then in Massachusetts (1777). Moreover Condorcet’s influences on the introduction of an institutional revision in the written constitution are important.
Moreover Condorcet’s influences on the introduction of an institutional revision in the written constitution are important.

c) text

You can find a scan (PDF) of the original text here:

© Prof. Jens Drolshammer,,

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