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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 11, No. 7. June 23rd, 1948


In his address to the Political Science Society the Consul for Switzerland, Mr. E. C. Theiler, spoke of Switzerland as an example to Europe and perhaps the world of how federalism can bring peace. Switzerland was born in the year 1291 when the free men of the Alpine valleys bordering Lake. Lucerne formulated the "Everlasting League." Unlike most ambitious pacts of this nature, this one lasted.

Federalism became necessary to Switzerland as soon as there was more than one language group, for conflicting race, religion and language makes centralised democratic government impossible. Each canton is autonomous in so far as its constitution does not conflict with the Federal Constitution, while within the canton the commune is independent in all local affairs. Each canton has its own system of government while its constitution is guaranteed by the Federal Constitution. There are no minority groups in Switzerland for any citizen may dwell in any commune, each of which is completely autonomous in all matters relating to racial origin, or religion. Persecution of any form is forbidden by the constitution. In 1798 Switzerland was forced to accept a revolutionary constitution which set up the "one and indivisible Helvetic Republic." But the idea of federalism was deeply ingrained in the Swiss character and in 1803 Napoleon was forced to restore a degree of autonomy to the cantons. Later by a constitutional referendum the people adopted the constitution of 1848 under which the old loose federation of states was transformed into a federal state with a national government.

Turning to Europe Mr, Theiler tried to explain how a federal system based on the Swiss pattern would be beneficial to European peace. Europe as everybody knows, is divided into two camps, both sides have the best intentions in the world and both desire world, peace, they therefore have much in common, but no one would think so.