From representative to direct democracy

The Bundesplatz – Seventh stop on my guided tour through Switzerland’s history of democracy

We are now standing on the federal square, inaugurated in its current shape in 2004. It symbolises the Swiss national state and its cantons, represented by the square and its 26 fountains that spring from one source surrounded by stone from the Alps.

The free democratic movement (Freisinn) of 1848 was no unitary party, it was a movement with different currents. Now that a new state was to be governed, its representatives drifted apart.

Jakob Stämpfli, a student of the Snell brothers, became federal councillor in 1850, representing the canton of Berne, and representing state-oriented liberalism (Staatsfreisinn). In 1857, he built the Federal Council building to my left, and he did not hesitate to raise taxes in Berne for this purpose. These were supposed to be non-recurrent, however, the money that was raised only sufficed for the first storey. So taxes were raised again, and they lasted to finish building to just below the roof. After that, taxes were introduced permanently in Berne. After his resignation from the Federal Council, Jakob Stämpfli founded the Federal Bank, the predecessor of the Swiss National Bank. It is evident that he was obsessed with the idea of creating a strong state.

Economic liberalism (Wirtschaftsfreisinn) did not share the ideas of state-centred liberalism, it was capitalist and only wanted a laissez-faire state. Its main proponent was Alfred Escher. He lived in Zurich, but as National Councillor also came to Berne. He also was member of the government of the canton of Zurich. And he was president of different railway companies, president of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, as well as president of the Swiss Credit Association. This made governing easier. At his peak, he signed contracts regarding the construction of new railways with himself – on the one hand as member of the cantonal government, on the other hand as concessionaire of the railway company.

In the 1860s, a new movement mobilised against the power of the barons of state and industry. Calling itself the “democratic movement”, it demanded more influence on policy-making. Elections were not enough, petitions too weak. The democratic movement called for popular rights. Decisions made by the people by referendum were to be binding for parliament and government.

At this time, only one popular right existed: The referendum on the (complete revision of the) constitution, with which the constitution of 1848 had been legitimised. However, with this popular right, only a complete revision of the constitution was possible. This was a protection-measure against the opposition in the federal state, the catholic-conservative circles.

In 1874, the facultative referendum, i.e. the possibilities to subject laws passed by the parliament to a referendum, was introduced by referendum. This optional referendum, a Swiss invention, still exists today. In 1891, a second popular right was introduced: the popular initiative. The initiative allows the population to demand the change of constitutional provisions (articles of the constitution as opposed to the whole constitution). If a majority of people and cantons agree, the constitution is amended.

The rapprochement of the two centre-parties, the liberal democratic party and the Christian popular party of 1891 did not come about voluntarily. In 1888, the social democratic party, a worker’s party, had entered the political stage, the political traditions of which were entirely different. The SP did not endorse the dictatorship of the proletariat, however, it did endorse class struggle by means of strike. Only gradually, they learned how to use popular rights instead, but soon the popular initiative was used to put left-wing demands on the political agenda, and referendums were used to block right-wing policies. Until 1918, the idea of class struggle was dominant, leading to a civil war. Only afterwards, it was gradually replaced by social partnership in work-related matters, and by concordance in politics.

Almost every component of the Swiss political system has been “imported“ from abroad: the values from France, the theory from Germany, the institutions from the USA. However, popular rights are homemade, so to speak, they are a Swiss invention which developed on the basis of the democratic movement that fought against concentration of power whatever its kind. They have shaped the Swiss state.

Popular rights in Switzerland are being used extensively. Between 2003 and 2007, we have been called to the ballot 26 times to decide upon issues put to the people in referendums and initiatives. We decided on the bilateral agreements with the European Union and accepted the accession to Schengen/Dublin, we accepted legislation on stem-cell research, but rejected the distribution of the state’s gold reserves, and we rejected cutting old-age pensions. Step-by-step, we thus created a government program. The political centre was usually successful, whereas the left and right lost a number of times.

Popular rights today are the strongest bond between Swiss citizens. We are proud of our popular rights – a pride that goes back to the 19th century, where it came into being also due to raison d’état. The introduction of the popular rights happened at the same time as the unification processes in Germany and Italy. Until 1871, Switzerland was one country among others of equal size, only France was substantially larger, whereas the neighbours to the North, East and South were not. Now, that Italy and Germany were ‘belated nations’, they were.

Switzerland is not a nation-state even today. It is a nation of nations, as a political scientist put it recently. And this nation of nations needs myths.

One of these myths was born in 1891, and its midwife was the state. Believe it or not, but it is related to the foundation of the town of Berne in 1191. In 1891, the town of Berne celebrated its 700th anniversary. The minister of justice at the time did not want to be second to the town of Berne: he declared 1291 to be Switzerland’s founding year. Hence, both the 700th anniversary of Berne and the 600th anniversary of the federation were celebrated, and as a birthday present, the popular initiative was introduced – without referendum.

Just as the „foundation“ of Switzerland in today’s form in 1291, the notion of Swiss democracy already existing then is a myth. In 1798, Napoleon tried to democratise Switzerland from above – and failed. In 1830, the liberals democratised some cantons piecemeal, in 1845, the radicals pushed for further democratisation and were successful locally. In 1848, Switzerland was ready for representative democracy, and in 1874, it gradually introduced direct democratic rights. Democracy develops if you fight for it!

Swiss democracy did not just exist. Like other political systems, it had its good times and its bad times. One of the difficulties resulted from mixing Anglo-Saxon thinking in terms of government and opposition with popular rights, where the people are the authorities’ opposition.

This contradiction we still have to shed light on – at our next and last stop. Be proud: for you, I’ll end my city tour in the room where our government convenes, a very special honour also for me!

Claude Longchamp, Historian/Town-Rambler of the Town of Berne
1.10.2007, Translation by Bianca Rousselot, PhD-Candidate

The American Role model

The Restaurant zum Äusseren Stand – Sixth stop on my guided tour through Switzerland’s history of democracy

In 1848, Switzerland was a republic. Today, this term is uncommon in Switzerland, but then, it was omnipresent, since it distinguished Switzerland from the monarchies surrounding it, above all from Austria, the purest monarchy, and least of all France, which had shifted between a republican and monarchical regime since 1792.

Since the enlightenment, ¨republic“ meant „separation of powers“: those who made laws did not enforce them. A constitution regulated the tasks of parliament, government and courts, and it guaranteed civil rights in and against the state. Laws had to protect the individual from arbitrary action – the idea of the rule of law was born.

The federal state of 1848 that was a result of the European revolution was influenced by American ideas. Cantons and the federal state were to share the tasks of the state. Elections were to include direct as well as indirect elements. The National Council and the Council of States were to be elected by popular vote according to the first-past-the-post principle with male suffrage only, whereas the Federal Council and the Supreme Court were to be elected by the national assembly, i.e. the Council of States and National Council together.

Elections were to take place every four years; the number of national councillors was to be fixed according to the population of Switzerland and the different cantons. The number of councillors of state was to be limited to two representatives for each canton, i.e. 44 in total. The Federal Council was to have seven members and be led by the President, who was to represent Switzerland externally. The government was to function as a collective, and every federal councillor was to lead one of the seven departments.

The first Federal Council convened at the Erlacher-Court, where we have already been today. The first National Council convened at the University; the buildings are no longer standing today. At the historical site of the former university, the Casino is now situated. Where we are standing now was the place where the first Council of States convened: at the Restaurant zum Äusseren Stand, roughly translated „the youth parliament of the old patrician families“.

The new federal leadership came from the winning side of the Sonderbund-war. The free democrats („Freisinn“) rallied the different liberal and radical forces which had replaced the conservative federalists. However, it was not yet a party as such – more an extended family of different liberal movements, which political scientists were to study later.

Elections according to the principle of first-past-the-post benefitted the free democrats. They were the dominant force both in the National Council as well as in the Council of States. The different conservative forces were in the minority. Even in some of the special-alliance cantons they were unprepared for the elections and had poor results. The Federal Council was composed accordingly only of free democrats. Three of them came from Zurich, Berne and Vaud, while the other 19 cantons had to take turns in being represented among the remaining four members of the Council. For reasons of national integration however, five Federal Councillors had to be from German-speaking Switzerland, and one each French- and Italian-speaking. Five had to be protestant, and only two catholic. Since there was only male suffrage, there was of course no quota for women.

Berne only became seat of the federal authorities in the course of negotiations in the Councils that provisionally met in the town. Zurich had claimed the title “capital”, and it was reckoned that the Federal Council, National Council and Council of States would convene there. However, in 1848, Zurich only had the honour of providing the first President.

Berne surprisingly became the capital of Switzerland. Its position as a “bridge” between the language regions was decisive. However, this excited envy in other cantons, and so one had recourse to a typically Swiss artifice: Switzerland wasn’t to have a “capital” at all. The parliament decided that since all cantons were sovereign states that had joined a federation, Switzerland didn’t need a capital, only a “federal city” as the seat of the federal government and parliament. Until today, Berne only is the “federal city”, not the capital.

This decision once more reflected ‘faint-heartedness’, however, in 1848, ‘stout-heartedness’ asserted itself: The foundation of the federal state as a sovereign republic was a historical achievement. There were no role-models in Europe, and the democratic idea had been underdeveloped until the mid-19th century. The idea of popular sovereignty had been defeated over and over again by the established and newly rich classes of disappearing feudalism and up-and-coming capitalism.

In 1848, the idea of popular sovereignty prevailed. Switzerland now was a representative democracy. The constitution of September 12, 1848, was accepted by a more or less well ordered referendum.

However, the Swiss political system was not fully developed yet. We’ll discuss the further developments at the next stop.

Claude Longchamp, Historian/Town-Rambler of the Town of Berne
1.10.2007, Translation by Bianca Rousselot, PhD-Candidate

Radicalisation, German refugees, and the new constitution

The restaurant Zimmermania – Fifth stop on my guided tour through Switzerland’s history of democracy

The radicalisation of liberal political discourse was fostered by the intellectuals, among them two German refugees, the brothers Snell, who wanted to create a nation-state and democratise Switzerland. Between 1830 and 1845, they substantially influenced political theory here.

Ludwig und Wilhelm Snell came from the educated bourgeoisie of Nassau. Both were able to study, Ludwig, the older brother, philosophy, Wilhelm law. Both were politically active after they left university, their aim a German national state. Whoever proposed this idea at the time was considered a friend of Prussia and therefore a demagogue, and whoever was considered a demagogue could be exiled.

Wilhelm and Ludwig came to the liberal Swiss cantons as refugees. There, they became active in the liberal movement and at the liberal universities. Wilhelm became founding rector of the University of Berne. He was Professor for constitutional law, while his brother was professor for philosophy.

Contrary to the liberal movement that was against the domination by the towns, the German Snells did not see themselves as Balois, Zurichois or Bernese, they wanted to create a nation-state and see the systems of mini-states that existed in Germany as well as in Switzerland abolished.

As leaders of the national party they envisioned lawyers with a national ideology. The brothers Snell were to influence a whole generation of jurists. They all went to their lectures. They all learned from the Snells how to think politically, and they worked for the national cause after they left university, be it at the courts, in the media, or in politics.

However, not everybody was happy with this „junge Rechtsschule“ (young school of law). The locals railed against the foreign influence, and German diplomats talked of agitation and glorification of violence. In 1836, Ludwig was forced to resign from his teaching position and leave the canton of Berne for Lucerne, where he was naturalised. In his „exile“, he used his time to write. Between 1839 and 1845, the handbook of Swiss constitutional law was written in the radical spirit.

The radicals were successful in French-speaking Switzerland, and they managed to influence the liberals with their way of thinking. This, however, stoked the fears of the federalists in the conservative catholic cantons of central and southern Switzerland, who formed a separate alliance (Sonderbund). In Lucerne, the leading canton, the pope re-instituted the Jesuits. Now, the radicals tried to take Lucerne. But the attempt to make politics across cantons with the aid of weapons was unsuccessful.

The liberal canton of Berne now decided to also force Wilhelm Snell into exile, since they did not want to have anything to do anymore with the attack on the neighbour. He left Berne and went to Basle-Land.

Snell’s eviction enraged the radical politicians, who wanted to overthrow the liberals. A new constitution was written and presented to the public before the elections of 1846.

The radicals won this election. Now, they had a majority in the Great Council and the government.

It is not clear where the constitution was written. The professors say: at home. The conservatives say: at the restaurant. As rumour has it, the restaurant was the professors’ home. And until today, this restaurant Zimmermania is said to be the location where intellectual radicalism became political action.

In 1846, the year the radicals won, Berne was the seat of the Diet. Now, it was decided to dissolve the special alliance of the conservative catholic cantons by force.

In 1847, war broke out once more and ended with the victory of the nationalists. In 1848, they were to found a sovereign state. This state had five institutions: people, cantons, the federal council, the federal assembly, and the federal court of justice.

At the next stop, I will show you where these new institutions convened.

Claude Longchamp, Historian/Town-Rambler of the Town of Berne
1.10.2007, Translation by Bianca Rousselot, PhD-Candidate

Regeneration and the Swiss liberal movement

The Erlacher-Court – Fourth stop on my guided tour through Switzerland’s history of democracy

We are currently standing in front of the Erlacher-Court, built in the 18th century in the French-style and still the most beautiful Palais in the town of Berne. After first being the seat of the cantonal government, it now is the seat of the government of the town of Berne. In 1798, the French generals resided here when French troops occupied Berne.

The Federal Treaty of 1815 that was issued at the Congress of Vienna led to a number of changes in Switzerland: Firstly, the French-speaking region was strengthened by Valais, Geneva and Neuchatel becoming new cantons of Switzerland, and by Jura becoming part of the canton of Berne. For the first time, the borders were guaranteed by international law. Secondly, new internal tensions were avoided by making Switzerland a neutral state. Thirdly, the position of the cantons was strengthened, and all cantons were sovereign and had equal rights. Only where a common interest existed, they formed alliances in the form of so called concordats. Within the cantons, however, the old authorities were back in power. The main towns had regained their privileges, and the old elites governed them.

The period of „Regeneration“ started after the second French revolution in Paris. In 1830, the July-revolution brought Louis Philippe to the throne as the „roi citoyen“ (citizens’ king), and with him the liberal bourgeois upper classes ascended to power. Soon, the revolution spread to Belgium, Poland and Italy – and also to Switzerland.

However, contrary to France, the liberal movement in Switzerland was not upper-class bourgeois, and it did not ask for a roi citoyen. Instead, it was comprised of the middle-classes, and it wanted to see change. Lawyers from the towns, publicans from the villages, craftsmen, farmers, they all were part of the Swiss liberal movement of 1830.

One particular aim was freedom of speech and an end to press censorship, another demand was freedom of trade.

Civil rights that the enlightenment had prepared and that were proclaimed by the French revolution were demanded, the Restauration was to be reversed, and Swiss politics was to be „regenerated“ – hence the term „Regeneration“.

At the end of the year 1830, the old regime in Berne gave in to popular pressure. On the 6th of December, the government called for petitions from citizens and farmers, which it agreed to address until the end of the year. On the 7th of January, a report on these petitions was submitted, and on the 16th of January, the Mayor of Berne asked the Great Council to dismiss the patricians from the government, since they were no longer accepted by the people.

In a hurry, a constitutive council was formed with the task of creating a new, liberal legal basis for the canton of Berne. The new constitution was that of a representative democracy with separation of powers. The peaceful revolution was over.

This achievement cannot be overestimated: For the first time, the Bernese people had given themselves a constitution, it was not given to them by a king or mayor, it wasn’t enforced by the military, and it wasn’t negotiated by diplomats.

However, in the town of Berne, opposition stirred: In the cellar of the Palais behind me, young officers of the old patrician families hid weapons and conspired, here was the centre of the counter-revolution – until their cover was blown.

The liberal movement resulted in many lasting changes in the Bernese state, of which I want to mention but two: the formation of communities and the introduction of general primary education.

Until 1831, the canton had been ordered in the tradition of bailiwicks („Landvogteien“). Since the 14th century, the patricians had ruled over the bailiwicks, oversaw husbandry and tillage, and enforced conscription. To this tradition the revolution put a stop now. The most important measure against the power of the bailiffs was the division of the bailiwicks. Every settlement was to become a community, and every community was to function like the canton: a republic governing itself! This idea was put into practice – and the canton of Berne, re-established in 1831, was split into almost 400 communities in the course of these decentralisation efforts.

With the communities, primary schools were established, the idea of which was to educate the cantons sons and make liberal citizens out of them who were capable of making informed decisions during elections, and of governing their own communities. In 1834, the Bernese University was founded, replacing the academy that had existed since the Reformation. It did not only educate and train future theologists, but also medical doctors for the task of ensuring public health, and lawyers for the new administration and the cantonal court of justice. Berne’s constitutional law was particularly affected by the new spirit. At the next stop, we’ll see its headquarters.

Claude Longchamp, Historian/Town-Rambler of the Town of Berne
1.10.2007, Translation by Bianca Rousselot, PhD-Candidate

« La nature a fait votre Etat fédératif » (Napoleon)

Nydegg-bridge – Third stop on my guided tour through Switzerland’s history of democracy

“la révolution est finie”, Napoléon Bonaparte said in 1799. Having been victorious on the Western European battlefields, Great Britain became his enemy No. 1. It was in Egypt that he sought to vanquish his eternal rival – unsuccessfully. First, he lost a naval battle, then he lost a land battle, and finally he lost his nerves. He left his troops in the Middle East to intervene directly in Paris. The directorate that had allowed Napoleon to become powerful was abolished. Napoleon declared himself First Consul for 10 years. In 1804, he declared himself French emperor.

In early 1799, the War of the Second Coalition (French Revolutionary Wars) between Austria and Russia on the one side and the French republic on the other broke out. The alliance the Helvetiv government had made with France forced Switzerland to enter the war. Austrian troops invaded from the North-East, Russian troops from the South, while the French opposed them. The land was split in East and West. Central Switzerland, which had been forced to enter the Helvetic Republic by military means in 1798, was particularly opposed to the French. However, French troops regained the northern passages to the Gotthard and began a counter-offensive. The Austrian and Russian defence was unsuccessful.

In 1800, the European war on Helvetic soil was over. After four coups d’état put an end to the predominance of the patriots, the moderate republicans were in power at first, however, they were soon to be replaced by the rising federalists. The canton of Schwyz was determined to overthrow the Helvetic regime. On the 1st of August 1802, supporters of the old order organised provincial assemblies (Landsgemeinden). They were supported by the dispossessed cloisters as well as by the patricians and the guilds that had lost their privileges. Under British pressure, Napoleon withdrew his troops from Switzerland.

Civil war broke out. It was later called the “Stecklikrieg” (war with wooden sticks) by the victorious party in order to make it sound less violent than it was. The battle of Berne raged around this bridge, for it was decisive to get across it into the old town, where the Helvetic directorate convened. The peasants were positioned on the hill above, led by the officers of the dismissed patricians, and British agents supported them.

Please take a look at this house. It was the French guard. Do you think if only “sticks”, i.e. hay forks, had been used, you’d see such holes? – no, these were made by canon balls. The attackers bombarded the capital of the Helvetic Republic.

The Helvetic government was forced to capitulate to the angry peasantry. It signed the capitulation, but negotiated an agreement guaranteeing its own safe passage to Lausanne. Berne fell into the hands of the partisans of the ancien régime. The civil war only ended two weeks later between Morat and Faoug – the military front corresponded to the language border. In 1802, French-speaking Switzerland remained revolutionary, while German-speaking Switzerland was reactionary.

Now, Napoleon intervened once more by sending troops back into Switzerland to deal with the internal disturbances and calling a “consulta” to Paris. 70 representatives of the enemy camps should learn about his analysis of the situation. There, he famously stated: „La nature a fait votre Etat fédératif. Vouloir la vaincre, ne peut pas être d’un homme sage.”

What followed is called mediation. The cantons were re-established as sovereign states in the Helvetic Republic with equal rights. The privileges of the formerly predominant states, social classes, and the German language were abolished. By this, the Consul tried to appease the federalists, however, without re-establishing the pre-revolutionary relationships of dependency.

The Act of Mediation which led to the creation of six new cantons entered into force in 1803. It altered Switzerland’s character substantially. Apart from the old states with provincial assemblies and the towns that were dominated by the patricians and the guilds, there now were cantons that were highly influenced by the spirit of the French revolution: Vaud, Argovia, Ticino, Grisons, St. Gallen and Thurgau, which were to protect the borders against the surrounding monarchies.

The Act of Mediation was in force until 1813 when the French emperor was exiled on St. Helena. Thereafter, Austrian troops occupied the Helvetic Republic and prepared the Restauration of the former order in Switzerland, which the Congress of Vienna legitimised.

However, Napoleon was to have a lasting effect on Switzerland in more than one regard: With the principle of equality that was part of the Act of Mediation, Napoleon also introduced multilingualism in Switzerland. From the 15th century onwards, the French-speaking regions had always been subjected territories, which now was no longer the case. In 1803, Napoleon also appointed the first federal chancellor, an elected administrator who was supposed to support the „Landamman“, the chief magistrate of the canton hosting the Swiss Diet (Helvetic confederal parliament) who stayed in office for one year. These institutions that were introduced by Napoleon, i.e. multilingualism, the federal chancellery and the one-year term of the head of state, survived until this day. The President is still elected for one year, while the chancellor is elected for a certain period of time.

Switzerland’s „rescue“ by Napoleon marked the low-point in the development of democracy in the country. From then on, the only way was up – and also we will now walk upwards into the old town. We will ascend the traditional wooden staircase which reminds us that the town that had its center here in the Nydegg in 1191 was entirely built of wood when it was founded.

Claude Longchamp, Historian/Town-Rambler of the Town of Berne
1.10.2007, Translation by Bianca Rousselot, PhD-Candidate

The ever-recurring question of justice

The well of justice (Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen) – First stop on my guided tour through Switzerland’s history of democracy

Dear guests!

Let me welcome you to today’s guided tour through the town of Berne.

As my principal occupation, I work as a political scientist, and among other subjects I research direct democracy. My avocation is being a historian, and my favourite pastime is rambling through the old town of Berne and other towns and cities. For some time now, I have been inviting guests to come along with me, and today, it is your turn to take a ramble with me!

I have three aims for today: Firstly, I want to offer you a brief tour through the town of Berne. Secondly, I want to tell you something about the more recent history of the town, the canton, and the country. Lastly, I would like to familiarise you with an analysis of the Swiss political system from a political-science perspective.

The location for the start of today’s tour I chose for a reason: it’s the well of justice, which is situated in Berne’s “lane of justice”. It symbolises the main theme of politics: the ever-recurring question of justice. Without doubt, justice is linked to equality, balance, distribution. Today’s political scientists speak of procedural justice if political processes proceed in accordance with the law. There is also justice of exchange, if giving and taking are in balance. And finally, there is distributive justice. For some, this means equality of opportunity, for others, it means equality of station.

The answers given to the question of justice depend on one’s world view, the latter being influenced by the political culture of the society of which one is part.

The most extensive global analysis of cultural change asserts that political cultures of societies differ mainly on two dimensions:

• the degree to which traditional-religious values are replaced by secular-rational values
• the degree to which collective survival or individual self-development are of importance

Switzerland is one of the societies where value change has taken place most extensively. Its culture is mainly secular-rational and highly individualistic.

In other words: electing and voting today are no longer an act of affirmation of national sovereignty of Switzerland as a whole, it is an expression of individual ideology that is to be reflected in the decision-making processes of the administration. The predominant style is free of religious avowals and instead directed at economic welfare.

This has not always been the case!

Today’s political culture in Switzerland developed on the basis of deep cleavages between different regions, centre and periphery, urban and rural areas, Catholicism and Protestantism, Germanic and Romanic languages, as well as different political ideologies. Following times of fervid conflict and civil war, compromise was sought – and found. This is why political culture in Switzerland is dominated by the idea of concordance, the main objective of which is the conservation of domestic peace.

However, discordance did not vanish entirely: almost all wells in the old town of Berne are symbols for one of these discordances, the Reformation. In 1525, it was introduced in Zurich by Huldrich Zwingli, and in Berne, the government enforced the Reformation by decree in 1528. Within a short period of time, Berne, a catholic town with a deep affinity for the pope, thus became a centre for the Reformation. In 1536, the town of Berne mediated Calvin’s move from Basel to Geneva, from where Calvinism spread across the globe.

The Reformation in Berne had consequences for artistic expression. The arts were on the decline in the town, which had been founded by the Swabian Dukes of Zähringen in 1191. Hence, reformed Berne had to commission Hans Gieng, an artist from neighbouring Fribourg which had remained catholic, to design most of the town’s wells, which we can still see today.

Hans Gieng was occupied by the main issue of his time: next to Lady Justice (Iustitia), he portrayed four great figures of his age:

• the pope, at the time Pius III., who started the Counter-Reformation at the Council of Trient,

• the emperor, at the time Charles V., who was ruler of a catholic realm that expanded across the globe,

• the sultan, at the time Sulayman I the Magnificent, who was about to conquer Christian Vienna, and

• King Ferdinand I., the emperor’s brother, who ruled over Hungary and Bohemia, and who was the great opponent of the Ottomans.

In subtle criticism, Hans Gieng portrayed the theocrats, monarchs and despots of his time with their eyes closed – exactly like Lady Justice, but for a different reason: his accusation was that all of them closed their eyes to injustice in their realms. Contrary to this, Lady Justice’s had to close her eyes when justice was administered.

Despite the highly symbolic well in Berne’s “lane of justice”, this “blindness” where justice was concerned was not always administered in the town. At times, the mayor (Schultheiss) of Berne, who was politician, regent and judge at the same time, reigned despotically. For this reason, he was finally overthrown.

At the next stop, we’ll see where this took place.

Claude Longchamp, Historian/Town-Rambler of the Town of Berne
1.10.2007, Translation by Bianca Rousselot, PhD-Candidate

unmöglicher blgmndybrn macht echte kltrbrchrng möglich

der name ist definitiv unmöglich: “blgmndybrn”. versuchen sie sich das zu merken, oder geben sie das mal auf anhieb fehlerfrei bei “google” ein! dennoch ist es möglich, dass man aufgrund dieses kryptonyms einen vergnüglichen abend erlebt kann.

der kulturabend “tintensaufen” im berner musigbistro, wo die ganze bloggeria gestern anwesend war (fotos: stadtwanderer, anclickbar)

wenn sie in “ggl” “google” erkennen können, sind sie fit. denn dann kommen sie auch bei “blgmndybrn” auf “blog monday bern”. und damit sind bei den bloggenden bernerInnen, die sich jeweils am ersten montag im montag nicht nur virtuell begegnen, sondern ganz real treffen. meist nur zu “brmctsd” (für “bier im coté sud”), gestern aber zu “tntnsfnmmsgbstr” (für “tintensaufen im musigbistro”).

der aufwand, den “bloggin’ chm” (für “bloggin’ chm” …) betrieben hat, wurde belohnt: dem vernehmen nach trafen sich soviele berner bloggerInnen wie noch nie zum montäglichen stelldichein der wachsenden szene.

auch der “stdtwndrr” (für “stadtwanderer”) war diesmal dabei. er hat sich gut unterhalten, mit einer bloggerin aus der fdp (für “effdepee”), einem blogger aus der sp (für “espee”), und zwei bloggern aus “frbrg”, “lss” und “brn” (für “fribourg”, “lyss” und wasächtwohl?). und er hatte seine helle freude am abendprogramm. zwar sind nicht alle tintensaufer gleich kreativ, orginiell und ausgereift. manuel stahlberger, ein wortgewandter sänger, der sprachverspielt nach rüti fährt oder sämtliche wörter auf -ette durchdeklinieren kann, war eine wahrhafte entdeckung.

ich sage nur eins: “blggnmchtspss” (für “bloggen macht spass”), sich mit blogger-kollegInnen zu “trffn” (für “treffen”) jedoch auch. eine wahre “kltrbrchrng” (für “kulturbereicherung”) …


“alle beiträge von heute über blgmndybrn von gestern”