The Politics of Local Autonomy: Measuring Cantonal (De)Centralisation in Switzerland

Müller, Sean (2011). The Politics of Local Autonomy: Measuring Cantonal (De)Centralisation in Switzerland. Space and Polity, 15(3), pp. 213-239. Routledge 10.1080/13562576.2011.692579

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In Switzerland, there are 26 systems of cantonal decentralisation because regulating municipal autonomy is an exclusively cantonal competency. Existing measures of local autonomy/cantonal decentralisation are confined to measuring the real or perceived distribution of functions. Alternatively, they weigh expenditures (Dafflon 1992) or tax revenues (Dlabac and Schaub forthcoming) of municipalities against those of the canton. Complementing these indices, this paper additionally measures the politics dimension of cantonal decentralisation. Seven aspects are measured: intra-cantonal regionalism, cumuldesmandats (double tenure of cantonal MP and mayoral office), territorial quotas for legislative and executive elections, direct local representation and
lobbying, party decentralisation, the number and size of constituencies, and direct democracy (communal referendum and initiative). This results in a ranking of all 26 cantons as regards the politics of local autonomy within their political systems. The measure will help scholars to test assumptions held for decentralisation in general, be it as a dependent (explaining decentralisation) or as an independent variable (decentralisation—so what?), within but also beyond the Swiss context.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


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

UniBE Contributor:

Müller, Sean


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science








Sean Müller

Date Deposited:

10 Nov 2014 09:12

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:37

Publisher DOI:





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