L’esprit et la destinée de la Constitution fédérale de 1848

Marcel Bridel

Marcel Bridel, L’esprit et la destinée de la Constitution fédérale de 1848 (Publications de l’Université de Lausanne, Centenaire de la Constitution fédérale de 1848, vol. 5), Lausanne: F. Rouge, 1949, pp. 37-69.

Introduction/Historical Situation and Systematic Context

On the occasion of the first centenary jubilee of the Swiss Federal Constitution from September 1848 several volumes were published, whereas in 1891 the Swiss Government invited Carl Hilty to publish an account (Les constitution fédérales de la Confédération suisse – Exposé historique écrit sur la demande du Conseil fédéral à l’occasion du sixième centenaire de la première alliance perpétuelle du 1er août 1291, Neuchâtel: Imprimerie Attinger frères, 1891; reprint: Les Éditions de l’Aire 1991). In 1948 the published book consisted in a volume of collected essays, edited by the Faculties of Law of the Swiss Universities (Die Freiheit des Bürgers im schweizerischen Recht, Festgabe zur Hundertjahrfeier der Bundesverfassung, Zürich: Polygraphischer Verlag, 1948), and William E. Rappard published a volume presenting the constitutional development between the adoption of the constitution of 1848, the successful total revision of the Swiss Federal Constitution in May 1874, to the centenary celebration (La consitution fédérale de la Suisse 1848-1948 (Die Bundesverfassung der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft 1848-1948), Boudry: La Baconnière, 1948 (Polygraphischer Verlag AG, Zürich 1948). Separately, a small volume was published by the editor François Rouge in Lausanne, containing the two conferences held on 8 and 15 November 1948 at the “Salle Tissot” of the “Palais de Rumine” in Lausanne, when Jean-Charles Biaudet and Marcel Bridel held their respective lectures worth to be consulted even today (compare no. 5.7 of this Legal Anthology).

Content, Abstracts/Conclusions, Insights, Evidence

Marcel Bridel, dealing with the subject of the spirit and destiny of the Swiss Federal Constitution of 1848, addressed in his lecture the spirit and the destiny of the Swiss Federal Constitution in the period of the first centenary. He highlights liberty, equality, separation of powers, democracy and representation, republicanism and constitutionalism, respectively rule of law as the principal dimensions of the constitution. Interesting is the remark, that the label of “Confederation” has been no more adequate since 1848, since the Federal Republic (a relic that even survived the total revision leading to the Swiss Federal constitution from April 1999).

We shall skip the arguments in detail, and jump to the core question for the future of the Swiss Federal State: “Le libéralisme est-il une doctrine périmée? Que représente au juste notre Constitution? Quel est le vrai sens de la Démocratie”? These lasting questions remain unanswered even today., i.e. they are answered differently, according to the various standpoints and during the changing times.

Further Information About the Author

Marcel Bridel, born on 19 May 1898 in Clarens (Montreux), died on 11 April 1980 in Lausanne, did his studies in jurisprudence at the Universities of Lausanne and Paris, before receiving his doctorate in 1927 from the University of Lausanne. After having been a secretary at the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, he was nominated extraordinary professor in 1936 and ordinary professor for public law in 1943. In 1948 he changed to the chair for compared theory of institutions at the department of social and political sciences at the very same University, and between 1949 and 1952 he signed as a vice president for the Executive Committee of the international Association for Political Studies.

Marcel Bridel has taken an active role in the foundation of modern political science in Switzerland and was a founding member as well as the first member of the board of directors of the Swiss Association for Political Science in 1959. Between 1959 and 1960 he also assisted with the elaboration of the Constitution of Cyprus.

Selected Works of the Same Author

Marcel Bridel: Sur les limites des libertés individuelles, in: Die Freiheit des Bürgers im schweizerischen Recht, Festgabe zur Hundertjahrfeier der Bundesverfassung, hrsg. von den Iuristischen Fakultäten der schweizerischen Universitäten, Zürich: Polygraphischer Verlag, 1948, pp. 99 ss.; Idem: Essai théorique sur le régime représentatif dans les démocraties modernes, in: Mélanges François Guisan, Receuil de travaux publié par la faculté de droit de l’Université de Lausanne, Lausanne: Rouge et Cie., Librairie de l’Université, 1950, pp. 3-35; Idem: Réflexions sur le principe majoritaire dans les démocraties. In: Festschrift Werner Kägi, 1979, pp. 45 ss.; Idem (Ed.): La démocratie directe dans les communes suisses (Recueil de travaux publié par l’Institut de science politique de l’Université de Lausanne), Zürich: Polygraphischer Verlag, 1952.

For Further Reading

Carl Hilty: Les constitution fédérales de la Confédération suisse – Exposé historique écrit sur la demande du Conseil fédéral à l’occasion du sixième centenaire de la première alliance perpétuelle du 1er août 1291, Neuchâtel: Imprimerie Attinger frères, 1891 (reprint: Les Éditions de l’Aire 1991);

William E. Rappard: La consitution fédérale de la Suisse 1848-1948 (Die Bundesverfassung der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft 1848-1948), Boudry: La Baconnière, 1948 (Polygraphischer Verlag AG, Zürich 1948).

Die Freiheit des Bürgers im schweizerischen Recht, Festgabe zur Hundertjahrfeier der Bundesverfassung, ed. by the Law Faculties of the Swiss Universities, Zürich: Polygraphischer Verlag, 1948.

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You can find a scan (PDF) of the original text here: Bridel Constitution0001