Consensus democracy and the transformation of Swiss energy policy

Kammermann, Lorenz; Freiburghaus, Rahel (2019). Consensus democracy and the transformation of Swiss energy policy. Der moderne Staat : dms, 12(2), pp. 329-346. Budrich 10.3224/dms.v12i2.09

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Switzerland’s government decided to phase out nuclear power in 2011. In 2017, the Swiss people accepted this decision in a popular referendum and made way for fundamental structural change in the energy system. This article analyzes the effect of Swiss consensus democracy’s core institutions (i.e. direct democracy, federalism, consociationalism) on the transformation of Swiss energy policy. It considers three core institutions of the Swiss political system constituting the distinct structures of power separation: consociationalism, federalism, and direct democracy, and describes their casespecific coupling as well as their relevance in the course of the Swiss energy transformation. We show with our qualitative process analysis that none of the three institutions of the Swiss consensus democracy or their loose coupling had a purely constraining effect on the transformation of Swiss energy policy. Moreover, the coupling of institutions seemed to be considerably relevant during the consultation phase and prior to the public vote. The analysis shows that institutional aspects, which are neglected in many policy-centric studies, are also a relevant factor in explaining policy change.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Political Science

UniBE Contributor:

Kammermann, Lorenz, Freiburghaus, Rahel


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science








Rahel Freiburghaus

Date Deposited:

23 Apr 2020 08:52

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:36

Publisher DOI:



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