The Old Confederation

The Swiss Confederation had a federal system that has been operating longer than any other in world history. In circa 1500, probably nobody would have dared to bet on the longevity of the Swiss Confederation, considering its location in the centre of Europe; its small size, its small population, which was estimated at circa 600 000 in 1 500 and some 1.6 million in 1800, and its particularly weak political structure, which lacked any kind of strong dynastic centre. And yet it somehow ended up being one of the most durable confederations in the history of the world.  A. Würgler, ´How the Old Swiss Confederation Operated´, in A. Holenstein, Th. Maissen, M. Prak (Eds.), The Republican Alternative, Amsterdam 2008).