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Switzerland/ 5.1 General legislation  

5.1.1 Constitution

Article 69, along with other articles of the Federal Constitution, draws a picture of the federal government's role in the promotion of culture. For instance, Article 2 paragraph 2 makes 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 paragraph 2) and the cultural aspects of political participation (Articles 34 and 39). Under the social goals set forth in Article 41 paragraph 1, letter g therein is of particular mention, since it asserts that the federal government and the cantons commit themselves to ensuring "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 paragraph 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 Aims […]

(2) It (The Swiss Confederation) shall promote the common welfare, sustainable development, inner cohesion, and 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) No person may be discriminated against, in particular on grounds of origin, race, gender, age, language, social position, way of life, religious, ideological, or political convictions, or because of a physical, mental or psychological disability. […]

Article 18 Freedom to use any language

The freedom to use any language is guaranteed.

Article 21 Freedom of artistic expression

Freedom of artistic expression is guaranteed.

Article 66 Education grants

(1) The Confederation may contribute to cantonal expenditure on grants provided to students at universities and higher education institutions. It may encourage the inter-cantonal harmonisation of education grants and lay down principles for the payment of education grants.

(2) It may also supplement cantonal measures while preserving cantonal autonomy in education matters by taking its own measures to promote education.

Article 67 Education of young people and adults

(1) In fulfilling their duties, the Confederation and Cantons shall take account of the special need of children and young people to receive encouragement and protection.

(2) The Confederation may supplement cantonal measures by supporting extra-curricular work with children and young people.

Article 69 Culture

(1) Cultural matters are a cantonal responsibility.

(2) The Confederation may support cultural activities of national interest, as well as art and music, in particular in the field of education.

Article 70 Languages

(1) The official languages of the Confederation are German, French, and Italian. Romansh is also an official language of the Confederation when communicating with persons who speak Romansh.

(2) The Cantons shall decide on their official languages. In order to preserve harmony between linguistic communities, they shall respect the traditional territorial distribution of languages, and take account of indigenous language minorities.

(3) The Confederation and the Cantons shall encourage understanding and exchange between the linguistic communities.

(4) The Confederation shall support the plurilingual Cantons in the fulfilment of their special duties.

(5) The Confederation shall support the measures taken by the Cantons of Graubünden and Ticino to preserve and to promote the Romansh and Italian languages.

Article 71 Cinema

(1) The Confederation may encourage Swiss film production and film culture.

(2) It may issue regulations to promote the diversity and quality of cinematographic works that are offered.

Article 78 Protection of nature and cultural heritage

(1) The protection of nature and cultural heritage is the responsibility of the Cantons.

(2) In the fulfilment of its duties, the Confederation shall take account of concerns for the protection of natural and cultural heritage. It shall protect the countryside and places of architectural, historical, natural or cultural interest; it shall preserve such places intact if required to do so in the public interest.

(3) It may support efforts made for the protection of natural and cultural heritage and acquire or preserve properties of national importance by contract or through compulsory purchase.

(4) It shall legislate on the protection of animal and plant life and on the preservation of their natural habitats and their diversity. It shall protect endangered species from extinction.

(5) Moors and wetlands of special beauty and national importance shall be preserved. No buildings may be built on them and no changes may be made to the land, except for the construction of facilities that serve the protection of the moors or wetlands or their continued use for agricultural purposes.

Article 93 Radio and television

(1) The Confederation is responsible for legislation on radio and television as well as on other forms of public broadcasting of features and information.

(2) Radio and television shall contribute to education and cultural development, to the free shaping of opinion and to entertainment. They shall take account of the particularities of the country and the needs of the Cantons. They shall present events accurately and allow a diversity of opinions to be expressed appropriately.

(3) The independence of radio and television as well as their autonomy in deciding on programming is guaranteed.

(4) Account must be taken of the role and duties of other media, in particular the press.

(5) Complaints about programmes may be submitted to an independent complaints authority.

Chapter published: 12-11-2014

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