Although its official name is the Swiss Confederation (for historical reasons), Switzerland has, in fact, been a federal state since 1848. Power is shared between the Confederation (the central state based in the capital city of Bern), the cantons (constituent states) and the communes (from which a fifth have their own parliament). All three political levels have a legislative (law-making) and an executive (law-enforcing) body. Only the Confederation and the cantons have judicial powers (courts). They are framed by a direct democracy system, which allows society to participate in and actively formulate changes through ballot initiatives.
This organigram illustrates the essential players on the federal level. The various structures for cultural support provided on the municipal and cantonal levels are numerous and quite heterogeneous and cannot be reduced to one basic model. They range from operationally separate cultural administrations with specialised staff for the different sectors of the arts and culture in most of the larger cantons and cities (e.g., Zurich, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne, Basel) to (ad hoc) committees in smaller cities responsible for culture, education, and sport at the same time.
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