2.35 Wolf Linder, Vom Zustand der Republik, Zeitschrift des Bernischen Juristenvereins, 2010, p. 67-87; leicht überarbeitete Abschiedsvorlesung des Autors an der Universtität Bern vom 5. November 2009
[On the state of the Republic]
The text at hand is Linder’s slightly amended valedictory lecture at the University of Bern in 2009. It is a scientific article, published in the ”Zeitschrift des Bernischen Juristenvereins” (publication of the Bernese Lawyers Association) in 2010 with the title “Vom Zustand der Republik” (On the state of the republic). The text at hand adds a political science perspective to this Anthology of texts on the Europeanization on Swiss law and legal culture before and after World War II.
Wolf Linder is an emerite (2009) Professor of Political Science and a Director of the Institute for Political Sciences at the University of Bern. He first studied law (from 1963 to 1968) before working as a lawyer (from 1968 to 1970) in law firms, courts and administrations. From 1969 to 1975 he studied political science at the University of Konstanz and wrote a doctoral dissertation. Between 1973 to 1982 he was a member of the parliament of the Canton of Thurgau, a member of the expert commission of the revision of the constitution of the Canton of Thurgau, as well as an adjunct judge at the Supreme Court of the Kanton of Thurgau (1974-1982). Linder’s main areas of research and teaching are the Swiss political system, domestic policy, political decision-making, federalism, communal politics, elections and research.
Linder first highlights the proposition that Switzerland, as a nation in times of globalization, should not lose sight of local and historical dimensions of a nation. In this context, Linder describes the Swiss nation as a republic. Despite the fact that the concept was imported from France, the nation has come into existence bottom up and not top down, a creation of the force of the Swiss people.
The lead question, according to Linder, is, are we at the end of the Swiss paradise? The relative competitiveness of Switzerland in the past twenty years is highlighted and the powerful pressures of globalization and Europeanization, leading to an unexpected dynamic in the country in these past twenty years.
Under the heading, “Die Internationalisierung und Europäisierung der Schweiz” (Internationalization and Europeanization of Switzerland), the text states that Swiss law today primarily has become international law; that globalization has favoured the executive in government and devalued the parliament and the peoples rights ; that globalization is homemade and that globalization has led to growing social diversion and diversity of interests, which are the real reasons for the change of the landscape of the political parties. This development leads to a polarization in the governmental system of “Konkordanz.”
The fundamental question according to Linder is, if Switzerland has reached the end of the so-called bilateral path with the EU. The obvious strategy of the EU to move Switzerland’s government beyond bilateral agreements would be to accept aquis communutaire which raises the dilemma that taking over EU law without participation can only be overcome by full membership, which is not presently politically doable.
In the full text, Linder postulates a reform of institutions, in particular of the executive and advocates a new dialogue in European policy. The text further postulates a consideration of the true greatness and the real smallness of the country. It ends with a clear statement that direct democracy in a globalized republic is the guarantor that the political structures of the nation will stay in the hands of civil society and its citizens.
You can find a scan (PDF) of the original text here: