Ten years after the mega-merger in the canton of Glarus, I can (unfortunately!) only confirm the findings of René Roca (“Communal mergers and direct democracy”, Current Concerns No. 27 of 11 December 2020). At the Landsgemeinde in 2006, a majority had decided to merge the 25 communes of Glarus. On 1 January 2011, the three large municipalities came into being.
“Creating three communes out of 25 is, in my opinion, a huge nonsense,” said the economics professor and happiness researcher Bruno S. Frey in the then new book by the NZZ publishing house “Was vermag Ökonomie?” (“What is economy capable to do?”). This and other comments can be read in the counter-memorial for the exceptional Landsgemeinde 2007. A newspaper recently ran the headline: “The new communes have grown up”. Grown up at the age of ten years?
I consider the loss of proximity to the population as an important “construction site”. Even most of the Glarus cantonal governing councillors see this as a problem. A “bureaucratisation” has taken place. One example: In a village, a piece of fencing was needed in a place with a precipitous hillside. In the previous commune, it would have taken one contact to put that fence in place. Now it took four contacts for the fence to stand – but in the wrong place on top.
How can we reconnect with the citizens and strengthen the militia principle?
Nor has the relationship between smaller and larger villages been resolved. It is not a sign of equality if a village with, for example, four hundred inhabitants has an issue, puts it to the vote and twenty times as many people from other villages can vote on it.
In the former commune of Elm, more people were present in the communal assembly as now in the merged large commune as a whole! In all three communes, attendance at communal meetings is low. There are many indications that the population is disenchanted with politics, because people identify less with the large commune as they used to with its own commune.
Government Councillor Dr R. Widmer is right saying in an interview that Rome was not built in a day.
But let us take care that the old common practices applied in the communes before the merger will not get lost! •
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