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The Swiss Ständerat: a Model of Perfect Bicameralism

This paper presents the Swiss Ständerat as a model of perfect bicameralism. It looks at the constitutional design of the second Chamber, examines the evolution of the Ständerat and critically assesses its current functioning. The author claims that the Swiss Federal Assembly is still based on almost perfect bicameralism but that the second Chamber only very imperfectly represents the regions. Having highlighted the current role and justification of the second Chamber, the paper will raise the question whether the Ständerat fulfils other useful functions justifying its existence. Does the sheer fact of having two differently composed Chambers prevent capricious and precipitous decision-making? The paper then turns to alternative mechanisms of representing regions at the federal level, briefly looks at other mechanisms available to Cantons to make their voices heard in the capital and presents the House of the Cantons as an evolving third Chamber complementing the Ständerat.
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