Switzerland: Overnight Centralization in One of the World's Most Federal Countries

Freiburghaus, Rahel; Mueller, Sean; Vatter, Adrian (2021). Switzerland: Overnight Centralization in One of the World's Most Federal Countries. In: Chattopadhyay, Rupak; Knüpling, Felix; Chebenova, Diana; Whittington, Liam; Gonzalez, Phillip (eds.) Federalism and the Response to COVID-19. A Comparative Analysis. Routledge Series on the Humanities and the Social Sciences in a Post-COVID-19 World (pp. 217-228). Milton Park: Routledge

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How did the Swiss federation perform in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic? Located in the heart of Europe and closely integrated into transborder commuter flows, Switzerland was early and strongly, yet territorially very unevenly, affected by the pandemic. In order to combat the spread of the disease, its federal system, which bestows extensive degrees of autonomy upon the 26 cantons, experienced an almost overnight centralization of political power. In this, it applied the only just recently reformed Epidemics Act, which sets out a “three-stage model’ to appropriately divide the tasks between the federal government and the cantons. As this chapter shows, this regulatory framework is crucial to understanding Swiss federalism’s relative success in tackling the first wave. The ensuing flexibility not only helped to level expanding asymmetries through experimental policy innovation and horizontal policy diffusion. Through their willingness to coordinate and share best practices, the constituent units also gained limited de facto leverage in the implementation of COVID-19 policy responses vis-à-vis the federal level. But the particular legal regime also incentivized the creation of ad hoc coordination fora, which were layered onto existing intergovernmental institutions. Such “deliberative layering” enhanced the federal system’s overall crisis management capacity

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)

Division/Institute:

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

UniBE Contributor:

Freiburghaus, Rahel; Müller, Sean and Vatter, Adrian

Subjects:

300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science

ISBN:

978-1-032-07790-1

Series:

Routledge Series on the Humanities and the Social Sciences in a Post-COVID-19 World

Publisher:

Routledge

Language:

English

Submitter:

Rahel Freiburghaus

Date Deposited:

07 Dec 2021 17:27

Last Modified:

07 Dec 2021 17:27

Related URLs:

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/161446

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