Switzerland as a federal state

The rise of Switzerland as a federal state began on 12 September 1848, with the creation of a federal constitution in response to a 27-day civil war in Switzerland, the Sonderbundskrieg. The constitution, which was heavily influenced by the United States Constitution and the ideas of the French Revolution, was modified several times during the following decades and wholly replaced in 1999. The constitution represents the first time that the Swiss were governed by a strong central government instead of being simply a collection of independent cantons bound by treaties.


Batterie rust
The federal troops during the Sonderbund war

In 1847, the period of Swiss history known as Restoration ended with the breaking out of a war between the conservative Roman Catholic and the liberal Protestant cantons (the Sonderbundskrieg). The conflict between the Catholic and Protestant cantons had existed since the Reformation; in the 19th century the Protestant population had a majority.[1] The Sonderbund (German: separate alliance) was concluded after the Radical Party had taken power in Switzerland and had, thanks to the Protestant majority of cantons, taken measures against the Catholic Church such as the closure of monasteries and convents in Aargau in 1841.[2] When Lucerne, in retaliation, recalled the Jesuits the same year, groups of armed radicals ("Freischärler") invaded the canton. This caused a revolt, mostly because rural cantons were strongholds of ultramontanism.

The Sonderbund was in violation of the Federal Treaty of 1815, §6, which expressly forbade such separate alliances, and the Radical majority in the Tagsatzung decided to dissolve the Sonderbund on 21 October 1847. The confederate army was raised against the members of the Sonderbund, composed of soldiers of all the other states except Neuchâtel and Appenzell Innerrhoden, which had stayed neutral. Ticino, while a Catholic canton, did not join the Sonderbund and fought with the Protestants.

The war lasted for less than a month, causing fewer than 100 casualties. Apart from small riots,[3] this was the last armed conflict on Swiss territory.

At the end of the Sonderbund War, the Diet began to debate a new federal constitution drawn up by Johann Conrad Kern (1808–1888) of Thurgau and Henri Druey (1790–1855) of Vaud. In the summer of 1848 this constitution was accepted by fifteen and a half cantons, with Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, Valais, Ticino and Appenzell Innerrhoden opposing. The new constitution was declared on 12 September 1848.

Federal Constitution

1848 Constitution

Bundesverfassung 1848 - CH-BAR - 3529242.pdf
The Federal Constitution of 1848

The new constitution created, for the first time, Swiss citizenship in addition to cantonal citizenship.

A federal central government was set up to which the cantons gave up certain parts of their sovereign rights, retaining the rest. The Federal Assembly was made up of two houses- Council of States (Ständerat), composed of two deputies from each canton (44 members at the time) and the National Council (Nationalrat) made up of deputies elected three years, in the proportion of one for every 20,000 citizens or fraction over 10,000 from each canton.[2] The Federal Council or executive (Bundesrat) consisted of seven members elected by the Federal Assembly. In the 1848 Constitution, the entire Federal Council was granted the "supreme executive and directorial authority of the Confederation".[4] Each member of the Federal Council heads one of seven executive departments. The chairman of the Council also holds the title of President of the Swiss Confederation for a one-year term, with the position rotating among the members of the Federal Council.

The judiciary (Bundesgericht) was made up of eleven members elected for three years by the Federal Assembly. The Bundesgericht was chiefly confined to civil cases in which the Confederation was a party, but also took in great political crimes.[2] All constitutional questions are however reserved for the Federal Assembly.

A federal university and a polytechnic school were to be founded. All capitulations were forbidden in the future. All cantons were required to treat Swiss citizens who belonged to one of the Christian confessions like their own citizens.[2] Previously, citizens of one canton regarded citizens of the others as the citizens of foreign countries. All Christians were guaranteed the exercise of their religion but the Jesuits and similar religious orders were not to be received in any canton. German, French and Italian were recognized as national languages.[2]

Although there was now a fully organized central government, Switzerland was a very decentralized federation. Most authority remained with the cantons, including all powers not explicitly granted to the federal government. One of the first acts of the Federal Assembly was to exercise the power given them of determining the home of the Federal authorities (the de facto capital of the newly created confederation), and on 28 November 1848 Bern was chosen. The first Federal Council sat on 16 November 1848, composed entirely of members of the Free Democratic Party.

Some of the first acts of the new Federal Assembly were to unify and standardize daily life in the country. In 1849 a uniform postal service was established. In 1850 a single currency was imposed to replace the cantonal currencies, while all customs between cantons were abolished. In 1851 the telegraph was organized, while all weights and measures were unified. In 1868 the metric system was allowed and in 1875 declared obligatory and universal.[2] In 1854 roads and canals taken in hand were taken under federal control.[2] The Federal Polytechnic wasn't opened until 1855 in Zurich, though the Federal university authorized by the new constitution has not yet been set up.

In 1859, Reisläuferei (mercenary service) was outlawed, with the exception of the Vatican guard.

In 1866 the rights granted only to Christians (free movement and freedom of religion) under the 1848 Constitution were extended to all Swiss regardless of religion.

1874 Revised Constitution

From 1848 onwards the cantons continually revised their constitutions, with most including the introduction of the referendum, by which laws made by the cantonal legislature may (facultative referendum) or must (obligatory referendum) be submitted to the people for their approval. It was therefore only natural that attempts should be made to revise the federal constitution of 1848 in a democratic and centralizing sense, for it had been provided that the Federal Assembly, on its own initiative or on the written request of 50,000 Swiss electors, could submit the question of revision to a popular vote.[2] The first attempt at a revision in 1872 was defeated by a small majority, owing to the efforts of the anti-centralizing party. Finally, however, another draft was preferred, and on the 19 April 1874, the new constitution was accepted by the people – 14​12 cantons against 7​12 (those of 1848 without Ticino, but with Fribourg and Lucerne).[2]

The Constitution of 1874 further strengthened the federal power. The revised Constitution included three major points. First, a system of free elementary education was set up, under the superintendence of the Confederation, but managed by the cantons. Second, a man settling in another canton was, after three months (instead of two years in the 1848 Constitution), given all cantonal and communal rights (formerly only cantonal rights were granted). Finally, the referendum was introduced in its "facultative" form; i.e., all federal laws must be submitted to popular vote on the demand of 30,000 Swiss citizens or of eight cantons. The Initiative (i.e., the right of compelling the legislature to consider a certain subject or bill) was not introduced into the Federal Constitution until 1891 (when it was given to 50,000 Swiss citizens) and then only as to a partial (not a total) revision of that constitution.[2]

Industrialisation and economic growth

The 1847 to 1914 period saw the development of the Swiss railway network. The Schweizerische Nordbahn (SNB) society opened the first railway line on Swiss soil in 1847, connecting Zürich and Baden. The Gotthard Rail Tunnel was completed in 1881.

The Swiss watchmaking industry has its origins in the 18th century, but boomed during the 19th century, turning the village of La Chaux-de-Fonds into an industrial center. Rapid urban growth also enlarged Zürich, which incorporated its industrial suburb Aussersihl into the municipality in 1891.

Banking emerged as a significant factor in Swiss economy with the foundation of the Union Bank of Switzerland in 1862, the Swiss Bank Corporation in 1872.

The Golden age of alpinism in the 1850s to 1860s lay the foundation to the tourism industry.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ "Switzerland § Geography". Encyclopædia Britannica. 26. 1911. p. 241. Retrieved 7 August 2008. In 1850, the population was 59.3% Protestant and 40.6% Catholic
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Coolidge, William Augustus Brevoort (1911). "Switzerland § History". Encyclopædia Britannica. 26. pp. 259–263. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  3. ^ notably the shooting of 13 demonstrators by the Swiss Army in Geneva in 1932
  4. ^ Cst. art. 174

External links


The German term Bezirk (plural Bezirke, derived from Latin: circulus, "circle") translated as "district" can refer to the following types of administrative divisions:

Stadtbezirk, a subdivision of a city in the sense of a borough (e.g. in Berlin, Hamburg or Vienna), often again subdivided into several quarters and neighbourhoods. According to German Gemeindeordnung codes, the city council resolves upon the implementation by municipal by-law (Satzung). In some cities the Bezirke have limited powers delegated to them by the city's local government, including an assembly resulting from local elections and an own 'mayor' (Bürgermeister). In the German states of Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate any municipality is authorized to implement Ortsbezirke with own advisory councils and local administrators. The state law in North Rhine-Westphalia commits the municipal administration of an independent city to subdivide the urban area into Stadtbezirke.

In Austria, the word Bezirk is used with different meanings in three different contexts:

Some of the tasks of the administrative branch of the national and regional governments are fulfilled by the 95 district captaincies (Bezirkshauptmannschaften, also translated as district administrative office). The area a district administrative office is responsible for is often, although informally, called a district (Bezirk). A number of statutory cities, currently 15, are not served by any district administrative office. Their respective municipal bureaucracies handle the tasks normally performed by the district administrative office.

The cities of Vienna and Graz are divided into municipal districts (Stadtbezirke), assisting the respective municipal governments.

From the point of view of the judiciary of Austria, the country is subdivided into 115 judicial districts (Gerichtsbezirke), each corresponding to one of the country's 115 lowest-level trial courts.

The Italian autonomous provinces of Trentino and South Tyrol, are divided into Bezirksgemeinschaften (Italian: comunità comprensoriali).

The districts of Switzerland are called Bezirke in several cantons. In Switzerland as a federal state, every canton is free to implement its own administrative structure. The intermediate administrative level above the Swiss municipalities is also referred to as Verwaltungsregion or Verwaltungskreis, Wahlkreis, Amtei or Amt, as well as French: districts in Suisse romande and Italian: distretto in Svizzera italiana. In Schwyz, the six historic Bezirke are self-governing bodies, some with regional Landsgemeinde assemblies, similar to the municipal Kreise of Graubünden. The six Bezirke of Appenzell Innerrhoden are identically equal to municipalities.

Historically the primary administrative divisions of East Germany from 1952 were called Bezirke. They were implemented by an administrative reform to supersede the East German federated states of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. The capital East Berlin was officially equated by resolution of the State Council of East Germany in 1961. Though legislative assemblies (Bezirkstage) and executive councils (Räte) existed, the Bezirke according to the top-down principle of democratic centralism enjoyed no autonomy nor any self-governing rights. They were abolished by law which the East German People's Chamber passed in 1990 on the eve of the German reunification.

During the Second World War, a special administrative division of Nazi Germany was officially classified as "Bezirk": Bezirk Bialystok.

Federal Assembly (Switzerland)

The Federal Assembly (German: Bundesversammlung, French: Assemblée fédérale, Italian: Assemblea federale, Romansh: Assamblea federala) is Switzerland's federal legislature. It meets in Bern in the Federal Palace.

The Federal Assembly is bicameral, being composed of the 200-seat National Council and the 46-seat Council of States. The houses have identical powers. Members of both houses represent the cantons, but, whereas seats in the National Council are distributed in proportion to population, each canton has two seats in the Council of States, except the six 'half-cantons', which have one seat each. Both are elected in full once every four years, with the last election being held in 2015.

The Federal Assembly possesses the federal government's legislative power, along with the separate constitutional right of citizen's initiative. For a law to pass, it must be passed by both houses. The Federal Assembly may come together as a United Federal Assembly in certain circumstances, such as to elect the Federal Council (the head of government and state), the Federal Chancellor, the federal judges or a general (only in times of great national danger).


Helvetia () is the female national personification of Switzerland, officially Confœderatio Helvetica, the Swiss Confederation.

The allegory is typically pictured in a flowing gown, with a spear and a shield emblazoned with the Swiss flag, and commonly with braided hair, commonly with a wreath as a symbol of confederation. The name is a derivation of the ethnonym Helvetii, the name of the Gaulish tribe inhabiting the Swiss Plateau prior to the Roman conquest.

Hermann von Liebenau

Hermann von Liebenau (3 October 1807 – 28 July 1874) was a Swiss historian.

He studied medicine in Germany and Austria until 1836, but after this published in historiography exclusively.

He moved to Lucerne in 1837, where he remained until his death with the exception of an absence during 1855 to 1860 during which he was in Roman service as a physician.

He published some works on contemporary history, the Swiss Regeneration and the formation of Switzerland as a federal state but mostly focussed on the medieval history of the Old Swiss Confederacy.

History of Switzerland

Since 1848, the Swiss Confederation has been a federal state of relatively autonomous cantons, some of which have a history of confederacy that goes back more than 700 years, putting them among the world's oldest surviving republics.

The early history of the region is tied to that of Alpine culture. Switzerland was inhabited by Gauls and Raetians, and it came under Roman rule in the 1st century BC. Gallo-Roman culture was amalgamated with Germanic influence during Late Antiquity, with the eastern part of Switzerland becoming Alemannic territory. The area of Switzerland was incorporated in the Frankish Empire in the 6th century. In the high medieval period, the eastern part became part of the Duchy of Swabia within the Holy Roman Empire while the western part was part of Burgundy.

The Old Swiss Confederacy in the late medieval period (the Eight Cantons)

established its independence from the House of Habsburg and the Duchy of Burgundy, and in the Italian Wars gained territory south of the Alps from the Duchy of Milan.

The Swiss Reformation divided the Confederacy and resulted in a drawn-out history of internal strife between the Thirteen Cantons in the Early Modern period.

In the wake of the French Revolution, Switzerland fell to a French invasion in 1798 and was reformed into the Helvetic Republic, a French client state. Napoleon's Act of Mediation in 1803 restored the status of Switzerland as a Confederation, and after the end of the Napoleonic period, the Swiss Confederation underwent a period of turmoil culminating in a brief civil war in 1847 and the creation of a federal constitution in 1848.

The history of Switzerland since 1848 has been largely one of success and prosperity. Industrialisation transformed the traditionally agricultural economy, and Swiss neutrality during the World Wars and the success of the banking industry furthered the ascent of Switzerland to its status as one of the world's most stable economies.

Switzerland signed a free-trade agreement with the European Economic Community in 1972, and has participated in the process of European integration by way of bilateral treaties, but it has notably resisted full accession to the European Union (EU) even though its territory has been surrounded by EU member states since 1995.

Index of Switzerland-related articles

The following is an alphabetical list of articles related to Switzerland.

Johann Heinrich Tobler

Johann Heinrich Tobler (1777–1838) was a Swiss singer and composer of Appenzell Ausserrhoden, active in the formative period of Switzerland as a federal state.

Born in Trogen as the son of a butcher, he worked as Modelstecher (craftsman of artistic wooden Lebkuchen templates) in Speicher from 1792, from 1798 also as secretary to the local authorities. He married Ursula Lerchenmeyer in 1803, and Anna Katharina Lindenmann in 1820.

He was a musical autodidact, and became known as composer and editor of song collections, as publicist and poet.

In 1823, he was co-founder of the first cantonal fire-insurance. He founded a literary association in 1820, which he presided 1825-27 and 1835–37, in 1824 he founded the cantonal choir (Sängerverein).

In 1813, he also published a treatise of the early modern history of his home canton since partition from Appenzell Innerrhoden in 1597.

List of Presidents of the Swiss Diet

This is a list of Presidents of the Diet ("Tagsatzung") of the Swiss Confederation (before 1848).

For the period since the creation of Switzerland as a federal state in 1848, the List of Presidents of the Swiss Confederation details the yearly President of the Confederation.

Hans von Reinhard-1814

Hans Konrad von Escher vom Luchs-1814

Johann Konrad Finsler-1814

David von Wyss II-1814-1815

Hans von Reinhard-1816

Niklaus Rudolf von Wattenwyl-1817

Niklaus Friedrich von Mülinen-1818

Josef Karl Xaver Leopold Leodegar Amrhyn-1819

Vinzenz Rüttimann-1820

David von Wyss II-1821

Hans von Reinhard-1822

Niklaus Rudolf von Wattenwyl-1823

Niklaus Friedrich von Mülinen-1824

Josef Karl Xaver Leopold Leodegar Amrhyn-1825

Vinzenz Rüttimann-1826

David von Wyss II-1827

Hans von Reinhard-1828

Niklaus Rudolf von Wattenwyl-1829

Emanuel Friedrich von Fischer-1830

Josef Karl Xaver Leopold Leodegar Amrhyn-1831

Eduard Pfyffer von Altishoven-1832

Johann Jakob Hess-1833

Konrad Melchior Hirzel-1834

Franz Karl von Tavel-1835

Karl Friedrich Tscharner-1836

Josef Karl Xaver Leopold Leodegar Amrhyn-1837

Georg Jakob Kopp-1838

Johann Jakob Hess-1839

Johann Konrad von Muralt-1840

Johann Karl Friedrich Neuhaus-1841

Karl Friedrich Tscharner-1842

Rudolf Rüttimann-1843

Konstantin Siegwart-Müller-1844

Johann Heinrich Emmanuel Mousson-1845

Jonas Furrer, (1805-1861), 1845

Johann Ulrich Zehnder-1846

Alexander Ludwig Funk-1847

Ulrich Ochsenbein, (1811-1890), 1847

Johann Rudolf Schneider-1847

Ulrich Ochsenbein, (1811-1890), 1847-1848

Alexander Ludwig Funk-1848

List of wars involving Switzerland

This article is an incomplete list of wars and conflicts involving Switzerland, since the creation of the Old Swiss Confederacy.

Local mail and rayon stamps of Switzerland

The local mail and rayon stamps of 1850 and 1852 constituted the first series of postage stamps issued by the Swiss Post. In philately, they are among the most sought-after Swiss stamps, with a 5 rappen Rayon I stamp selling for the record price of CHF 348,000 (USD 293,000) at auction in 2008.After the reconstitution of Switzerland as a federal state in 1848, the authority to operate a postal service passed from the cantons to the Confederation, and the federal postal service was founded in 1849. Its local mail and rayon stamps were the first definitive stamps valid in all of Switzerland, although the stamps issued by the postal authorities of the cantons of Geneva, Basel-Stadt and Zürich remained concurrently valid until 1854, when all stamps were supplanted by the "Sitting Helvetia" series of federal stamps.

Religion in Switzerland

Christianity is the predominant religion of Switzerland, its presence going back to the Roman era. Since the 16th century, Switzerland has been traditionally divided into Roman Catholic and Reformed confessions.

However, adherence to Christian churches has declined considerably since the late 20th century, from close to 94% in 1980 to about 66% as of 2017. Furthermore notable is the significant difference in church adherence between Swiss citizens (71%) and foreign nationals (50%) in 2017.Switzerland as a federal state has no state religion, though most of the cantons (except for Geneva and Neuchâtel) recognize official churches (Landeskirchen), in all cases including the Roman Catholic Church and the Swiss Reformed Church. These churches, and in some cantons also the Old Catholic Church and Jewish congregations, are financed by official taxation of adherents.The Federal Statistical Office reported the religious demographics as of 2017 as follows (based on a survey of 200,000 people aged 15 years and older):

65.6% Christian (including 35.9% Roman Catholic, 23.8% Reformed, 5.9% other),

26.0% unaffiliated,

5.4% Muslim,

0.3% Jewish,

1.4% other religions.

(100%: 6,981,381, registered resident population age 15 years and older).In 2017 37.9% (3,213,411 people) of total population were members of the Roman Catholic Church, while 25.3% (2,150,387 people) were members of the Swiss Reformed Church. (100%: 8,484,130, total resident population).


Sempacherlied is the title of a number of patriotic songs celebrating the Swiss victory at the Battle of Sempach (1386).

The oldest versions are recorded in the late 15th to early 16th century, e.g. by Melchior Russ (1488), by Wernher Schodeler (1515) and by Aegidius Tschudi (1536). A version composed by one Hensli Halbsuter in the late 15th century, comprising a total of 63 verses, was printed in 1599 (incipit Im 1386 iar).

The modern song (incipit Lasst hören aus alter Zeit) was written ca. 1836 by Heinrich Bosshard (1811-1877), set to music by Ulrich Wehrli (1794-1839), in the context of the period of Regeneration, formative of the Swiss national identity which resulted in the foundation of Switzerland as a federal state in 1848.

September 12

September 12 is the 255th day of the year (256th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 110 days remain until the end of the year.

Sonderbund War

The Sonderbund War (German: Sonderbundskrieg) of November 1847 was a civil war in Switzerland, then still a relatively loose confederacy of cantons (states). It ensued after seven Catholic cantons formed the Sonderbund ("separate alliance") in 1845 to protect their interests against a centralization of power. The war concluded with the defeat of the Sonderbund. It resulted in the emergence of Switzerland as a federal state, concluding the period of political "restoration and regeneration" in Switzerland.The Sonderbund consisted of the cantons of Lucerne, Fribourg, Valais, Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden and Zug, all predominantly Catholic and governed by Conservative administrations. The cantons of Ticino and Solothurn, also predominantly Catholic but governed by liberal administrations, did not join the alliance.

After the Tagsatzung (Federal Diet) declared the Sonderbund unconstitutional and ordered it dissolved by force, General Guillaume Henri Dufour led the federal army of 100,000 and defeated the Sonderbund under Johann-Ulrich von Salis-Soglio in a campaign that lasted only a few weeks, from November 3 to November 29, and claimed fewer than a hundred lives. He ordered his troops to care for the injured, anticipating the formation of the Red Cross in which he participated a few years later. Major actions were fought at Fribourg, Geltwil, Lunnern, Lucerne, and finally at Gisikon, Meierskappel, and Schüpfheim, after which Lucerne capitulated on 24 November. The rest of the Sonderbund surrendered without armed resistance in the subsequent weeks.

Swiss Guards

Swiss Guards (French: Gardes Suisses; German: Schweizergarde) are the Swiss soldiers who have served as guards at foreign European courts since the late 15th century.

Foreign military service was outlawed by the revised Swiss Federal Constitution of 1874, with the only exception being the Pontifical Swiss Guard (Latin: Pontificia Cohors Helvetica, Cohors Pedestris Helvetiorum a Sacra Custodia Pontificis; Italian: Guardia Svizzera Pontificia) stationed in Vatican City. The modern Papal Swiss Guard serves as both a ceremonial unit and a bodyguard. Established in 1506, it is one of the oldest military units in the world. It is also the smallest army in the world.The earliest Swiss guard unit to be established on a permanent basis was the Hundred Swiss (Cent Suisses), which served at the French court from 1490 to 1817. This small force was complemented in 1567 by a Swiss Guards regiment. In the 18th and early 19th centuries several other Swiss Guard units existed for periods in various European courts.

In addition to small household and palace units, Swiss mercenary regiments have served as regular line troops in various armies; notably those of France, Spain and Naples (see Swiss mercenaries). They were considered the most effective mercenaries of the 15th century until the Landsknechte (German mercenary pikemen) outmatched the Swiss battle-drill. At the Battle of Marignano (1515), the Landsknechte in French service defeated the Swiss pikemen, ending their pre-eminence.


In Swiss politics and the history of the Old Swiss Confederacy, a Talschaft is

the body of voting population in a certain valley (as it were English dale-ship).

The grouping of voters by valley rather than municipality is a tradition harking back to before the establishment of the current administrative divisions with the foundation of Switzerland as a federal state in 1848. A Talschaft will typically include voters of several municipalities. For example, the Talschaft of Lauterbrunnen Valley includes the voting population of the municipalities of Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, Mürren, Stechelberg, Gimmelwald and Isenfluh.

Similarly, the Talschaft of Hasli consists of six miunicipalities, Gadmen, Guttannen, Hasliberg, Innertkirchen, Meiringen and Schattenhalb. In this case, the Talschaft is coterminous with the Bernese district of Oberhasli.

Historically, Leute der Talschaft is the traditional German translation of the Latin term homines vallis in the Federal Charter of 1291, literally "the people of the valley". Thus, the enumeration of the Confederates,

homines vallis Uranie universitasque vallis de Switz ac communitas hominum Intramontanorum Vallis Inferiorisis rendered as

"the people of the Talschaft Uri, the entirety of the valley of Schwyz and the community of people of the Talschaft of Unterwalden"

Territorial evolution of Switzerland

The territorial evolution of Switzerland occurred primarily with the acquisition of territory by the historical cantons of the Old Swiss Confederacy and its close associates. This gradual expansion took place in two phases, the growth from the medieval Founding Cantions to the "Eight Cantons" during 1332–1353, and the expansion to the "Thirteen Cantons" of the Reformation period during 1481–1513.

The Helvetic Republic (formed 1798) as revised in the Act of Mediation (1803) added further territories of former Associates of the Swiss Confederacy, notably those of the Abbey of St. Gall and the Three Leagues. The territories of the Valais, the Swiss Jura and Geneva were added to the "restored" Confederacy following the Congress of Vienna in 1815.

The restored Confederacy remained a union of nominally independent states until the formation of Switzerland as a federal state in 1848. Some territorial disputes remained, and were resolved in the 1850s and 1860s. Since then, the territory of Switzerland has remained fixed (with the exception of minor border corrections) by 1863.

There have since been a number of unsuccessful suggestions for further enlargement. The most realistic of these was the possible accession of Vorarlberg following a referendum held there in 1919, in which 81% of the people of Vorarlberg voted to join Switzerland; but Vorarlberg was instead incorporated into the First Austrian Republic. There was a brief and unsuccessful revival of Alemannic separatism after World War II, and in the later half of the 20th century, there were no serious political scenarios of any further enlargement of Switzerland. Since 2008, similar proposals have once again been discussed, at least as hypotheticals, as expressions of Euroscepticism, reflecting the wish of territories within European Union member states to leave the European Union.

Since there is currently no legal framework governing the admission of new cantons, any enlargement would, as a matter of Swiss law, require an amendment of the Swiss federal constitution and therefore a national popular referendum. A corresponding proposal was submitted by Jurassian representative Dominique Baettig in 2010, but was dropped after Baettig was not re-elected in 2011.

Timeline of Swiss history

This is a timeline of Swiss history, comprising important legal and territorial changes and political events in Switzerland and its predecessor states. To read about the background to these events, see History of Switzerland.


Toggenburg is a region of Switzerland. It corresponds to the upper valley of the river Thur and that of its main tributary, the Necker. Since 1 January 2003, Toggenburg has been a constituency (Wahlkreis) of the canton of St. Gallen (SFOS number 1727).

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