Switzerland is well-known for its unique combination of three major political institutions: direct democracy, consociationalism, and federalism. In international comparison, albeit in the less recent literature, 1 Swiss democracy has not only been considered as “the clearest prototype” (Lijphart 1999, p. 249) of a consensus democracy with extensive elements of power-sharing, but also an archetype of a federal state: Switzerland classifies as a “federation”, 2 that is – following Watts (2008, p. 10):

[a] compound [polity], combining strong constituent units and a strong general government, each possessing powers delegated to it by the people through a constitution, and each empowered to deal directly with the citizens in the exercise of its legislative, administrative, and taxing powers, and each with major institutions directly elected by the citizens.

In fact, the cantons are among the most influential member states in relation to the central state (Vatter 2016).