Consociationalism and Intergovernmental Relations - Linking Internal and External Power-Sharing in the Swiss Federal Polity
Title: Consociationalism and Intergovernmental Relations - Linking Internal and External Power-Sharing in the Swiss Federal Polity
Author: BOLLEYER, Nicole
Citation: Swiss Political Science Review, 12, 3, 2006, 1-34
For several decades, comparative politics has treated the Swiss political system as the prime example of a power-sharing polity in which consociationalism and cooperative intergovernmental relations co-exist in a mutually reinforcing manner. Surprisingly enough, so far the linkages between these two types of power-sharing have been neither adequately theorized nor empirically analyzed. In order to substantiate how intra-governmental power-sharing facilitates intergovernmental cooperation, this paper proposes a rational choice approach specifying different mechanisms driving actors' choices in favour of or against strong intergovernmental arrangements (IGAs). Just to mention two of the mechanisms at work: given multi-party executives in the cantons, over time, party compositions hardly change and ideological differences between cantonal executives are moderate. Hence, a fairly stable horizontal interest profile characterized by little ideological divergence facilitates the setting-up of strongly institutionalized IGAs. These mechanisms are examined empirically, first, by systematically assessing the organization of Swiss intergovernmental relations and second, by identifying the motives of Swiss intergovernmental actors to establish the given structures on the basis of in-depths interviews. While the results indicate that intra-cantonal power-sharing facilitates inter-governmental institutionalization, they also reveal what culturalist approaches on Swiss federalism presupposing actors' inclination towards cooperation commonly overlook, namely Swiss actors' strategic moves to guard own powers and defend institutional self-interests affecting organizational developments in the intergovernmental arena.
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