Note: As a country with a strong federalist character, Switzerland essentially has less legal basis in its cultural domain than may be the case in differently organised countries.
Article 69, along with other articles of the Swiss Federal Constitution, draws a picture of the federal government's role in the promotion of culture. For instance, Article 2, Section 2, holds the Swiss Confederation responsible for, among other things, promoting the "cultural diversity of the country". Article 4 formally stipulates the four national languages. Article 18 safeguards the freedom of language. Article 21 guarantees the freedom of art. Article 35 necessitates the pursuance of fundamental rights. And not to be overlooked is the ban on discrimination in view of cultural diversity (Article 8, Section 2) and the cultural aspects of political participation (Articles 34 and 39). Under the social goals set forth in Article 41, Section 1, Clause g therein is of particular mention, since it asserts that the federal government and the cantons shall commit themselves to insuring "that children and young people are supported in their development to become independent and socially responsible persons as well as in their social, cultural and political integration". Jurisdiction with regard to culture is regulated by Article 66 and Article 67 (education, extracurricular work involving young people, adult education), Article 70 (languages), Article 71 (film), Article 78 (nature and cultural heritage) and Article 93, Section 2 (programming directive for the electronic media). These culturally-relevant legal statutes and directives call upon the Swiss Confederation to take into account cultural contents not only in the development of federal cultural promotion, but also in the regulation of other policy areas (cultural compatibility).
The individual wording of the articles of the Constitution are as follows:
Article 2 Purpose […]
(2) It (The Swiss Confederation) shall promote the common welfare, the sustainable development, the inner cohesion, and the cultural diversity of the country. […]
Article 4 National languages
The national languages are German, French, Italian, and Romansh.
Article 8 Equality before the law […]
(2) Nobody shall suffer discrimination, particularly on the grounds of origin, race, sex, age, language, social position, lifestyle, religious, philosophical or political convictions, or because of a physical or mental disability. […]
Article 18 Freedom of language
The freedom of language is guaranteed.
Article 21 Freedom of art
The freedom of art is guaranteed.
Article 66 Support of education
(1) The Confederation may grant subsidies to the Cantons for the expenses that they may incur for scholarships and for other assistance granted toward the furthering of education.
(2) It may, moreover, complement cantonal measures while respecting cantonal autonomy in school matters, and adopt its own measures to encourage education.
Article 67 Education of young people and adults
(1) The Confederation and the Cantons shall, when fulfilling their remits, take into account children's and young people's special needs for development and protection.
(2) The Confederation may complement cantonal measures and support the extracurricular work with children and young people and the education of adults.
Article 69 Culture
(1) Culture is a cantonal matter.
(2) The Confederation may support cultural activities of national interest, and encourage art and music, in particular in education.
Article 70 Languages
(1) The official languages of the Confederation are German, French, and Italian. Romansh shall be an official language for communicating with persons of the Romansh language.
(2) The Cantons shall designate their official languages. In order to preserve harmony between language communities, they shall respect the traditional territorial distribution of languages, and take into account the indigenous language minorities.
(3) The Confederation and the Cantons shall encourage understanding and exchange between the language communities.
(4) The Confederation shall support the plurilingual Cantons in the fulfilment of their particular tasks.
(5) The Confederation shall support the measures taken by the Cantons of Grisons and Ticino to maintain and to promote Romansh and Italian.
Article 71 Film
(1) The Confederation may encourage Swiss film production and film culture generally.
(2) It may legislate to encourage the variety and quality of cinematographic works offered.
Article 78 Nature and cultural heritage
(1) The protection of nature and cultural heritage is a cantonal matter.
(2) In fulfilling its tasks, the Confederation shall take into account the objectives of the protection of nature and cultural heritage. It shall protect scenery, localities, historical sites, and natural and cultural monuments; it shall preserve them untouched if public interest so requires.
(3) It may support efforts toward the protection of nature and cultural heritage, and may, by contract or by expropriation, acquire or secure objects of national importance.
(4) It shall legislate on the protection of animal and plant life, and on the preservation of their natural environment and diversity. It shall protect endangered species from extinction.
(5) Moors and marshland of special beauty and national importance shall be protected. No installations may be built upon them, and no alterations of any kind may be made to the land. An exception is made for installations serving to ensure their protection or continuation of existing agricultural use.
Article 93 Radio and television
(1) Legislation on radio and television and other forms of public telecasting of feature programmes and information is a federal matter.
(2) Radio and Television shall contribute to education and cultural development, to the free forming of opinion, and to the entertainment of listeners and viewers. They shall take into account the particularities of the country and the needs of the Cantons. They shall present events factually, and reflect diverse opinions fairly and adequately.
(3) The independence of radio and television and the autonomy of their programming are guaranteed.
(4) The situation and the role of other media, in particular the press, shall be taken into account.
(5) It shall be possible to submit complaints about programmes to an independent authority.