Why Switzerland ?

The third edition is the revised and updated classic account of Switzerland’s unique political, constitutional and economic system. This new edition addresses the twin challenges posed by globalisation and Swiss relations with the EU and whether Switzerland offers a viable, alternative development model.

Switzerland is a special and fascinating place. Its unique institutions and voting system (s), its direct democracy, the multi-member executives, the well-functioning public services, the Milice system, the absence of strikes, the very low unemployment and state debt,  the cantonal and communal autonomy, its universal military service, its wealth, the four national languages and the magnificent nature make it interesting in itself.

There is also a special feature. Switzerland is an island surrounded by the European Union and resists membership. The book attempts to answer three related questions: why has such an exception to European norms survived?

Why should outsiders notice its peculiarities, and what can they learn from them? Finally, can so unusual a society continue to exist when many of the conditions in which it evolved have disappeared?

Jonathan Steinberg, Why Switzerland, third edition, Cambridge 2015