Size, Strategy, or Self-Identity? Explaining Patterns of Territorial Interest Representation in Federal Switzerland

Freiburghaus, Rahel (26 August 2020). Size, Strategy, or Self-Identity? Explaining Patterns of Territorial Interest Representation in Federal Switzerland (Unpublished). In: ECPR General Conference Online, Virtual Event. Online. 24.08.-28.08.2020.

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In order to fend off central encroachment into subnational areas of power and/or seek policy rewards, subnational entities – e.g., states, cities, or regions – seek to influence national decision-making in various ways. Given the growing differences between the units of a same federal system, however, channel selection to do so has taken an asymmetrical turn: While some subnational actors still utilize constitutionally enshrined safeguards of federalism (e.g., bicameralism), others rely on the sheer presence “where the action is”, i.e. in the capital (e.g., state offices), as a vehicle for territorial lobbying. Yet little is known about the rationalities underlying the use of formal and informal routes, respectively. This paper thus explains whether patterns of territorial interest representation are driven by size, strategy, or self-identity. Focusing on the case of federal Switzerland, the paper assesses the relative importance of different channels of subnational co-decision-making as well as changes over time. Arguing that territorial interest representation within a multi-level setting is not only a matter of size or financial capacities, this paper develops a novel theory that includes a subnational actor’s historically evolved conception of self. Drawing on a cross-sectional analysis of new original survey data that covers all 26 Swiss cantons, the rivalling hypotheses are put to a rigorous empirical test. The paper thus broadens our understanding of how growing disparities between a federation’s constituent units manifest themselves in differentiated access to federal policy-making.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


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

UniBE Contributor:

Freiburghaus, Rahel


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science




Rahel Freiburghaus

Date Deposited:

15 Oct 2020 10:57

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:41


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