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Old January 9th, 2010 #45
Alex Linder
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 45,375
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Alex Linder

Swiss politics is interesting in that it is so decentralized. I have heard that the Swiss confederation even acted as a model for the United States. In local elections voting is done by simply a show of hands in the local village hall or in the open air. In 1978, the region of Jura actually seceded from the jurisdiction of Bern and technically from Switzerland, to be later readmitted in its own right.

This could only happen because Switzerland is not really a single country, but a confederation of largely autonomous "cantons" – 26 in all – and these cantons compete amongst each other, such as in providing the most favourable business and tax climate. A visit to the site comparis.ch will show that one of the choices the Swiss people have is the amount of tax they pay.

As one example, the canton of Obwalden formerly had one of the higher tax rates, but to compete brought it down to a flat 10% – though cantons Zug and Schwyz are better known for their low taxes. In the south, cantons Vaud, Geneva and the Italian-speaking Ticino are currently lowest. Also, it is perfectly possible for any reasonably wealthy person to cut a special deal with a canton for a much lower rate. In fact, the wealthier the better – the lack of social envy and its politics is unusual and noteworthy.