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  • Open Access
  • © 2021

Swiss Democracy

Possible Solutions to Conflict in Multicultural Societies

Palgrave Macmillan
  • This book is open access, which means that you have free and unlimited access

  • Fully revised edition of the key reference work on Swiss politics aimed at an international audience

  • Provides an up-to-date account of the origins, operations and effects of Swiss democracy

  • Explains and critically analyses central institutions of the Swiss political system in an accessible manner

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 49.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Table of contents (7 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xxiii
  2. Introduction

    • Wolf Linder, Sean Mueller
    Pages 1-8
  3. Building a Multicultural Society by Political Integration

    • Wolf Linder, Sean Mueller
    Pages 9-58
  4. Federalism

    • Wolf Linder, Sean Mueller
    Pages 59-118
  5. Direct Democracy

    • Wolf Linder, Sean Mueller
    Pages 119-165
  6. Consensus Democracy: The Swiss System of Power-Sharing

    • Wolf Linder, Sean Mueller
    Pages 167-207
  7. Comparative Perspectives

    • Wolf Linder, Sean Mueller
    Pages 209-263
  8. Switzerland in Europe and the World

    • Wolf Linder, Sean Mueller
    Pages 265-279
  9. Back Matter

    Pages 281-295

About this book

This open access book provides an updated and fully revised 4th edition of this authoritative analysis of Swiss democracy. It particularly explains the institutions of federalism and consensus government through political power sharing. In this new edition, the authors also address several important changes and challenges that have affected Swiss democracy, including the country's relationship with the EU, fiscal equalisation, direct democracy and the legitimacy of national referendums, territorial conflict, as well as the polarisation of party politics. 


  • Open Access
  • conflict
  • democracy
  • desegregation
  • federalism
  • Institution
  • parliament
  • participation
  • Switzerland
  • Swiss democracy
  • direct democracy
  • consensus democracy
  • political power sharing
  • multi-cultural society


‘Much can be learned from this study. But the lesson of this book is not: do it like the Swiss, and everything will be fine. Rather: study the history and the institutions of Switzerland, adopt what seems to work and avoid the many pitfalls’.

Jürg Steiner, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA and University of Bern, Switzerland, on the first edition (1994)


‘This new edition of Swiss Democracy lives up to both the far-reaching changes that the Swiss political system has experienced over the past decades under the influence of Europeanization and party system polarization, as well as to the dynamic development of political science research on Swiss politics. It is essential reading for scholars and practitioners alike who are interested in a critical appraisal of the development and dynamic development of Swiss consensus democracy’.

Silja Häusermann, University of Zurich, Switzerland


Swiss Democracy provides a comprehensive and original analysis of the emergence, development, and various definitive features of this unique and complex political system – one characterized by extraordinary diffusion and sharing of powers among branches and levels of government as well as numerous constituencies. The authors explain the particularities of Swiss consensus democracy, federalism, direct democracy, and position in European and international politics, while also providing insightful comparative perspectives and potential lessons. This fourth fully revised edition sheds light on continuity as much as numerous changes and challenges to Swiss policies, politics and polity. It is a must-read for scholars of Swiss politics as well as comparative federalism and government that is also remarkably accessible for students, practitioners and a wider audience’.

Jared Sonnicksen, Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany

Authors and Affiliations

  • Department of Political Science, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland

    Wolf Linder

  • Institute of Political Studies, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland

    Sean Mueller

About the authors

Wolf Linder is Professor Emeritus of Political Science and former Director of the Institute of Political Science at the University of Bern, Switzerland. He has held professorships in Lausanne and Bern and guest professorships in Geneva and Lucerne. His research has focused on Swiss institutions and politics. His publications include about 150 articles and 15 books. Texts of previous editions of Swiss Democracy have been translated into Polish, Arab, Nepali, Rumanian. On this basis, Linder still works as a lecturer in developing countries, where students as well as politicians are particularly interested in the Swiss experience of decentralisation, federalism and political power sharing

Sean Mueller obtained his PhD in Politics & Government from the University of Kent, UK, in 2013. His thesis dealt with decentralisation within the 26 Swiss cantons. Prior to his being in the UK, he worked for two years as Research Fellow at the Institute of Federalism of the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. Since 2013, he has been (Senior) Lecturer and Researcher at the Institute of Political Science, University of Berne, Switzerland. He also taught Swiss and Comparative Politics at the Universities of Lausanne (2016, 2017 and again in 2020) and Lucerne (since 2019). He has published extensively on Swiss federalism, direct democracy, and power sharing, and notably co-wrote a new version of the German-language textbook Schweizerische Demokratie with Wolf Linder in 2017.   

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Swiss Democracy

  • Book Subtitle: Possible Solutions to Conflict in Multicultural Societies

  • Authors: Wolf Linder, Sean Mueller

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Cham

  • eBook Packages: Political Science and International Studies, Political Science and International Studies (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2021

  • License: CC BY

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-030-63265-6Published: 21 January 2021

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-030-63268-7Published: 07 February 2022

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-030-63266-3Published: 20 January 2021

  • Edition Number: 4

  • Number of Pages: XXIII, 295

  • Number of Illustrations: 13 b/w illustrations, 2 illustrations in colour

  • Additional Information: Originally published under W. Linder

  • Topics: European Politics, Political Science

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 49.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)