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The Political Class in Advanced DemocraciesA Comparative Handbook$
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Jens Borchert and Jürgen Zeiss

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199260362

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0199260362.001.0001

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Switzerland: The Militia Myth and Incomplete Professionalization

Switzerland: The Militia Myth and Incomplete Professionalization

(p.374) 20 Switzerland: The Militia Myth and Incomplete Professionalization
The Political Class in Advanced Democracies

Reto Wiesli

Oxford University Press

Four features are highly valued in Switzerland's political system and political culture: the militia principle, direct democracy, federalism, and consociationalism. These factors also have a strong impact on the structure of the Swiss political elite: Some politicians qualify as real professionals, but because of the concurrence of the militia principle and the federal character of the Swiss political system we are bound to speak of an incomplete professionalization of the political class. Furthermore, the pivotal role of associations (Verbändestaat) and the controlling function of direct democracy make it difficult to determine a centre of a political class. Nevertheless, it is possible to define a small elite cluster even in Switzerland – but certain qualifications have to be taken into account.

Keywords:   associations, consociationalism, direct democracy, elite, federalism, incomplete professionalization, militia, militia myth, political class, Switzerland

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