June 17, 2024

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Home » Content » The Swiss Constitution makes secession of a region or canton as difficult as a Spanish one
To gain independence or join another country, the canton concerned must follow a clear process. A national vote would be mandatory, and would require a double majority of the people and the cantons. A case that never happened: "In Switzerland, the whole prevails, there have never been serious attempts to start such a process," says Andreas Gross, former national councilor (PS / ZH)

Does a Swiss canton have the right to leave the Confederation and become an independent state?

We thank you for using the Query service, here is the result of our research:

On June 17, 2016 a few days before the vote on Brexit by the British, the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” published the article “Wenn Kantone die Schweiz verlassen wollen” http://bit.ly/2eWqb9v in which the journalist Simon Gemperli wonders if secession from a Swiss canton is possible.

The answer is negative. Indeed, as the journalist indicates « Die Eidgenossenschaft […] kennt kein Verfahren für Sezessionsbestrebungen der Kantone. » and quotes Article 1 of the “Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation”


«The Swiss people and the cantons of Zurich, Bern, Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, Obwald and Nidwald, Glaris, Zoug, Friborg, Solothurn, Basel-City and Basel- Campaign, Schaffhouse, Appenzell Rhodes-Exteriors and Appenzell Rhodes-Interiors, St. Gallen, Graubünden, Aargau, Thurgau, Ticino, Vaud, Valais, Neuchâtel, Geneva and Jura forms the Swiss Confederation.

Then he adds « Für den Austritt eines Kantons müsste folglich die Verfassung geändert werden, was die Zustimmung des Volks und einer Mehrheit der Stände bedingt.

» For the secession of a Swiss canton it would be necessary to modify the Federal Constitution. This requires a federal vote with a double majority of the people and the cantons.

« Ein Sezessionsrecht existiert somit nicht einmal implizit. Art. 3 BV stellt denn auch klar: « Die Kantone sind souverän, soweit ihre Souveränität nicht durch die Bundesverfassung beschränkt ist.

» This right of secession is therefore not implicit and cites Article 3 of the Federal Constitution


 “The cantons are sovereign as their sovereignty is not limited by the Federal Constitution and exercise all the rights that are not delegated to the Confederation. “

Simon Gemperli states that « Die fehlende “Schwexit”-Klausel ist kein Versäumnis, sondern ein bewusster Entscheid der Gründerväter von 1848. Nach dem Sonderbundskrieg sollte aus dem losen Staatenbund ein Bundesstaat werden. Ein Austrittsrecht, wurde befürchtet, könnte den Zusammenhalt aufs Spiel setzen. Die oft zitierte Willensnation Schweiz ist so gesehen relativ.

»That the clause authorizing a “Schwexit” is not an oversight, but a deliberate decision decided by the founding fathers of 1848. Indeed, after the Sonderbund War it was decided to unite independent states in a federal state . They feared that a right of secession would endanger the integrity of the young Confederation. The fact that Switzerland is said to be a desired nation (Willensnation) is in fact only very relative.

This impossibility of secession for the cantons remains unknown. As this article of the 26th of March 2012 of the daily “20 minutes” http://bit.ly/2g9hOcv shows, which informed us that after the yes to the initiative on second homes, the president of FC Sion Christian Constantin s was asked in the “Tages Anzeiger” “why the Valais would not do like Liechtenstein by becoming a sovereign state? “.

Aside from this example, it seems that the cantonal secession does not find many supporters. This is not the case of an enlargement of Switzerland, as evidenced by the motion “For a facilitated integration of bordering regions as new Swiss cantons” http://bit.ly/2fR2kHx filed by the National Councilor Dominique Baettig and who wanted to allow the reception, as new cantons, of the bordering regions of which a majority of the population would like it.

But as the “SwissInfo” reported on May 21, 2010 in the article “Switzerland will not call its neighbors to membership” http://bit.ly/2eWnEwc, this motion was rejected by the Federal Council.

We hope these items will help you in your search. Do not hesitate to contact us for any further information or any other question.



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