The cantonal majority principle

In Switzerland, any initiative which may lead to constitutional change has to win the backing of both a majority of voters and of cantons.

This content was published on September 22, 2002

This was the case with the two gold initiatives, which were thrown out on Sunday.

The federal system, as it is known, can undermine the principle of "one person, one vote" by giving each canton the same political weight.

Critics of the federal system point to the fact that it gives small cantons - some with just a few thousand residents - the same political weight as cantons like Zurich, which has more than one million inhabitants.

The effect is that one vote in the tiny canton of Appenzell-Inner Rhodes equals 31 votes in canton Zurich.

Critics say it is unfair that cantons with small populations are able to "veto" initiatives, which may have won the support of either the majority of Swiss voters or of the largest cantons.


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