Europe

Switzerland Overview

According to the Constitution of 1848, Switzerland ceased to be a Confederation and became a federal republic (the former denomination of the Swiss Confederation, however, has remained in common parlance). However, the Constitution of May 29, 1874 is currently in force, amended several times in the following decades. The 26 federated states or cantons, each of which has ample autonomy and has its own government (Council of State) and legislative assembly (Grand Council), correspond to the cantons of the same name into which Switzerland is historically divided. Three cantons are divided into half-cantons: the states of Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft form the Canton of Basel; Ausser-Rhoden and Inner-Rhoden that of Appenzell; Obwalden and Nidwalden that of Unterwalden, thus giving rise to the division into 23 Cantons (for a long time there were 22 Swiss Cantons; only in 1978 was the Canton of Jura established by referendum, consisting of some French-speaking districts of the Canton of Bern). In the federal sphere, legislative power is delegated to the Federal Assembly formed by the National Council, of 200 members, elected for 4 years by universal suffrage (since 1971 women have also voted), in proportion to the population of the various Cantons, and by the Council of States, of 46 representatives (2 for each canton). The modalities and terms of election of the latter are entirely entrusted to the cantons themselves. Executive power is exercised by the Federal Council made up of 8 members, elected for 4 years by the Assembly; the latter chooses from among them each year the president, who is also the head of state and cannot be immediately re-elected. A fundamental institution of the Swiss Constitution is the referendum, or direct popular vote; any ordinary law can be submitted to referendum (and many are) if requested by at least 30,000 citizens or by 8 cantons. Popular initiative is also frequent, which, on the basis of 50,000 signatures collected, can propose new laws for parliamentary examination. The linguistic situation of the country is very complex and the phenomena of bilingualism and multilingualism are widespread. The Canton of Ticino is of Italian language; the cantons of Vaud, Neuchâtel, Geneva and Jura are French-speaking; the cantons of Bern, Friborg and Valais are bilingual (French and German), while the Canton of Grisons is German-Italian-Romansh; German is spoken in all other cantons.

The religion is mostly Christian, with a slight prevalence of Catholics over Protestants; freedom of religion, in homage to the fundamental principles of the country, is also guaranteed to all citizens. Switzerland’s judicial system is based on continental law, with influences from customary law. There is no capital punishment. The supreme body of the judiciary is the Federal Supreme Court, based in Lausanne. Among its numerous tasks are the more delicate ones of establishing the possible unconstitutionality of the laws approved by the Swiss Parliament and the Cantons. The Tribunal also has the task of resolving any disputes between the cantons. The centuries-old neutrality of Switzerland has never meant the denial of a national defense system. On the contrary, the country has always had a great military tradition and its very origins go back to episodes of armed struggle. The contribution of the Swiss Guards to the defense of the Vatican City is still famous today, in memory of the times when the best mercenaries in the service of kings, popes, emperors and the European nobility came from the Swiss Confederation (14th, 15th and 16th centuries). The neutrality of Switzerland, on the other hand, translates into a lack of membership in international defense organizations. Only participation in the UN international peacekeeping missions was approved, starting from 2001. Swiss armed contingents were then deployed, within the multinational intervention force, in Kosovo. in 2002 to maintain peace between Serbian and Albanian populations. Military service is mandatory for all male citizens and includes subsequent refresher periods between 21 and 42 years of age. The personnel of the armed forces are however in a phase of reduction because internal factors (rationalization of expenses, investments in new war technologies) and foreign factors (end of the EW bipolarity) push in this direction. Federalism, administrative autonomy, the diversity of languages, confessions, cultures and needs have led to differences in the organization, management and control of educational institutions in the various cantons. There is no single ministry of education and yet the federal government provides guidelines in the education sector, it ensures that elementary studies are respected and free of charge, creates or subsidizes educational institutions and defends respect for religious freedom in public schools.

The government can sanction those cantons that fail to comply with Article 27 of the Constitution, which gives the cantons the right and obligation to provide primary education. Primary education, which must take place solely under the direction of the state, begins at 6 years and has a variable duration according to cantonal regulations (7-8-9 years). The beginning of the school year is variable (in spring, summer or autumn). Visit ehuacom for study in Switzerland. In the French-speaking cantons, compulsory schooling lasts for 9 years and takes place for one year in the kindergartens, for 6 years in the elementary school proper and for 2 years in the complementary schools of the city and countryside for those who do not intend to continue their studies. Those who intend to continue their studies, at the end of the fifth or sixth year of elementary school, enroll in a boarding school, a high school for girls or a high school of commerce. In these schools secondary education lasting 8 years is given; they are generally divided into two cycles: lower of 2 or 3 years to complete compulsory schooling and higher. There are also professional schools and horticulture schools. In the Italian-speaking cantons, primary school welcomes children aged 6 to 11. Those who do not intend to continue their studies attend the three-year high school, and for one year they can attend professional start-up or apprenticeship courses since confederal legislation establishes that they can only start working at 15 years of age. Those who intend to continue, pass in the gymnasiums, four years, and continue secondary education for another 4 years in high school or business school or master’s school. In the German-speaking cantons, compulsory schooling lasts for 8 years and takes place in primary school, in which, according to the pupils’ choice, compulsory work placement education can begin as early as the third grade. Secondary education is given in the gymnasiums, which are accessed at the end of the sixth grade of primary school and which are divided into lower and higher, the latter in turn divided into classical and scientific, in the industrial and commercial schools. There are also numerous technical education institutions. University education is also a competence and is organized by the various cantons; the prestigious Polytechnics of Zurich (1855) and Lausanne (1853), as well as four federal research institutes depend on the state. There are eight universities in Switzerland: three in German-speaking Switzerland in Basel (1460), Bern (1834) and Zurich (1833); four in French-speaking Switzerland in Geneva (1559), Lausanne (1537) and Neuchâtel (1909) and the Catholic University of Friborg (1889); one in Italian Switzerland with offices in Lugano and Mendrisio (1996). There is also the St. Gallen Higher School for Economics and Social Sciences (1899) and many higher education institutes.

Switzerland Overview