In the course of its 33rd Session, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe adopted a recommendation on local and regional democracy in Switzerland, following a monitoring visit to Bern, Zurich and Oetwil an der Limmat by the rapporteurs Marc COOLS (Belgium, ILDG) and Dorin CHIRTOACA (Republic of Moldova, EPP/CCE) from 23 to 25 January 2017. Since the Rapporteur on regional democracy, Dorin CHIRTOACA, is currently under house arrest since 26 May 2017 and was not allowed to visit Strasbourg, co-rapporteur Marc COOLS presented the report.
The conclusions of this second monitoring visit since Switzerland ratified the European Charter of Local Self-Government in 2005 were particularly positive.
The Congress welcomed Switzerland’s ratification of the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority, on 18 July 2017. “Switzerland, which symbolises direct democracy, has long been a genuine role model in terms of citizen participation in local public affairs,” said Marc COOLS. The report likewise underlines the fact that municipal self-government is particularly deeply rooted in Switzerland, and that direct-democracy procedures are highly developed at all levels of governance.
The report goes on to highlight various points which need to be examined by the Swiss authorities in order to further improve the democratic framework, such as better direct involvement of municipalities in decision-making procedures, and the possibility of extending the scope of the Charter to the cantons – in consultation with the cantons – in order to preserve their autonomy vis-à-vis the Confederation. The Congress also calls on the authorities to ratify Articles 4.4, 6.2, 8.2 and 9.5 of the Charter, which are complied with de facto in Switzerland.
Switzerland ratified the European Charter of Local Self Government in 2005. Countries which have ratified the Charter are bound by its provisions. The Charter requires compliance with a minimum number of rights, which form the European bedrock of local self-government. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities makes sure that these principles are observed.
Stéphanie Poirel, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Secretary of the Monitoring Committee
** 33rd Session of the Congress **