Federal competence for byicycle paths? How do we stick to federalism?

Federal competence for byicycle paths? How do we stick to federalism?

mw. It is being voted on the direct counter-proposal of the parliament on the popular initiative “To promote the bicycle, foot and hiking trails [Velo Initiative]”. The initiators have withdrawn the initiative because the content of the counter proposal is not significantly different.
Article 88 of the Federal Constitution shall now also contain, in addition to the federal competence for the regulation of footpath and hiking path networks, the competence regulating bicycle path networks. The Confederation should lay down principles and be given the opportunity to support, coordinate and report on measures for cantonal and other cycle paths.
What should you have against it? In Switzerland, many people cycle, on the work or school route, during leisure time and on vacation. Cycling is healthy and environmentally friendly. As an enthusiastic cyclist, I am happy about every good bike route in the country.
However, the question arises: Why a federal competence? The bicycle network is very well developed and signposted also without help from the Confederation in Berne throughout the country, there are long-since area-covering bicycle-maps.
The most important objection to new federal competences is the principle of the sovereignty of the cantons, which is enshrined in Article 3 of the Federal Constitution: “The cantons are sovereign, insofar as their sovereignty is not limited by the Federal Constitution; they exercise all rights that are not assigned to the Confederation.”

Federalism as an essential
pillar of Switzerland
Strong federalism is an essential, historical pillar of the Swiss federal state. As hitherto sovereign states, the cantons had joined forces in 1848 to form a federal state. Any responsibility the Confederation wanted to claim from then on, starting with the national currency, the post and the army, had to be incorporated into the Federal Constitution by the sovereign, that is to say, the majority of people and cantons. As complementary rule has been since the beginning the principle of subsidiarity: The federal government should only become active where the cantons do not or not sufficiently fulfill a task. The same applies to the canton in relation to the communes. This proven unwritten rule was introduced into the Constitution by the sovereign in November 2004 as Article 5a: “The principle of subsidiarity must be observed when assigning and fulfilling state tasks.”
Unfortunately, these principles have been poorly respected for a long time. In the federal administration and in the conferences of cantonal government councils, which are not legitimated by the people, there are many advocates of “harmonisation”, i.e. centralisation, influenced by the OECD or the EU. These try with pressure and cunning to push from above driven nature parks or unspeakable concoctions as the Curriculum 21 through by the sovereign – often by lure with financial federal contributions. Under the motto of “harmonisation”, more and more areas are assigned to the federal government, which have so far fulfilled the cantons in their own way – just like the installation and maintenance of cycle paths. It is of little use if paragraph 2 of Article 88 F C is to add the following: “In doing so, it preserves the responsibilities of the cantons.”
How do we want to stick with federalism? Maybe as a minority in the National Council and the Council of States has proposed? “A minority of parliament believes that cycling should remain the sole responsibility of the cantons and communes. That has been proven.”1

1    Federal Council voting booklet on the referendum of 23 September 2018, p. 5

Voting text

Federal decree on the cycle paths as well as the footpaths and hiking trails

The Federal Constitution is amended as follows:

Art. 88 Foot, hiking and bicycle paths

1 The Confederation establishes principles for walking, hiking and cycling networks.
2 It can support and coordinate measures of the cantons and third parties for the installation and maintenance of such networks as well as for information about them. In doing so, it preserves the responsibilities of the cantons.
3 It takes into account such networks in the performance of its duties. It replaces ways it has to remove.

(Translation of the voting text Current Concerns)

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