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How popular votes made Switzerland a global democracy leader

With its second federal constitution of 1874, Switzerland was suddenly catapulted to the forefront of democracy development worldwide. No canton had voted so strongly in favour of radical change as Schaffhausen.

Adopting the new federal constitution marked a milestone in Swiss history. It brought about several important improvements, making up for just about everything the original constitution lacked.

Many of these improvements would not have happened without what became known as the Democratic Movement. This movement had arisen in several parts of Switzerland in response to controversial decisions taken by cantonal parliaments, such as Basel Country and Basel City moving towards reunification and building railroads through farm land in Bern.

This episode is part of the series Swiss democracy hotspots with Claude Longchamp.

This series in several parts is tailored for our author: Claude Longchamp’s expertise makes him the man who can bring alive the places where important things happened.

Longchamp was a founder of the research institute gfs.bern and is the most experienced political analyst in Switzerland. He is also a historian. Combining these disciplines, Longchamp has for many years given highly acclaimed historic tours of Bern and other sites.

--- is the international branch of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Its role is to report on Switzerland and to provide a Swiss perspective on international events.

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About Swissinfo
SWI – the international service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Since 1999, has fulfilled the federal government’s mandate to distribute information about Switzerland internationally, supplementing the online offerings of the radio and television stations of the SBC. Today, the international service is directed above all at an international audience interested in Switzerland, as well as at Swiss citizens living abroad.
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