The Canton of Grisons and its contribution to direct democracy in Switzerland

7th Scientific Conference of the Research Institute for Direct Democracy

Saturday, 2 October 2021, 9 am to 4.30 pm, Haus der Begegnungen, Klosterweg 16, Ilanz

ro. The 7th scientific conference of the Forschungsinstitut direkte Demokratie, (Research Institute for Direct Democracy, will focus on research results that show to what extent the Canton of Grisons has promoted direct democracy in Switzerland. With this conference, we would like to show the state of research in this area and encourage further research projects.
  In 1583, the French political philosopher Jean Bodin makes some revealing remarks about the Swiss Confederation in his main work “Six books on the state”. For example, he assigns all the Landsgemeinde places, including the Canton of Grisons, to the “democratic political systems”. The “Canton of Grisons places” were “more purely democratic than any other state in terms of constitution and government”. In addition to this external description, the sources also contain self-descriptions by the confederates a short time later, apparently earliest for the Canton of Grisons, where the earliest use of the term democracy for the Swiss Confederation is found in 1618 in a specific historical context: “The form of our regiment is democratic.” The “democratic form” of the Canton of Grisons is then frequently mentioned as a model in the 19th century when it comes to expanding people’s rights. What does “democratic” mean in different historical contexts and what significance did the pre-modern democratic form of the Canton of Grisons has for the development of modern direct democracy? The conference in Ilanz will pursue these and other questions.
  Following last year’s conferences on the significance of Catholic conservatism, liberalism and early socialism for direct democracy in Switzerland, as well as the theoretical foundations of natural law and the cooperative principle, the Research Institute dealt with the Landsgemeinde and the Canton of Glarus as part of the sixth conference. Now the historical focus will continue to be on the cantons and their contribution to direct democracy. After the Canton of Grisons, the Canton of Ticino is to follow next year.


9.30: Welcome and introduction
Dr phil. René Roca, Head of Research Institute for Direct Democracy
Dr Carmelia Maissen, mayor of Ilanz/Glion

10.00: Dr phil. René Roca: “The Canton of Grisons and its contribution to direct democracy in Switzerland – an overview”

10.45: Break

11.15. Prof Dr theol. Jan-Andrea Bernhard: “Church and state - the effect of the Ilanz article letters and disputation theses”

12.00: Dr phil. Florian Hitz: “The Old Canton of Grisons Referendum. Its practice in the Ancien Régime and its reception by Canton of Grisons legal historians of the first half of the 20th century” (A.R. Ganzoni, Zaccaria Giacometti, Peter Liver)

12.45: Lunch

14.15: Prof em Dr Jon Mathieu: “Forms of ‘democratic’ politics in the early modern Free State of the three Confederations”

15.00: Prof Dr iur. Stefan G. Schmid: “Florian Gengel (1834-1905) a theorist of direct democracy from the Canton of Grisons”

15.45: Prof Dr Randolph C. Head: "Was there an early modern democracy? A contemporary perspective from a Canton of Grisons point of view" (possibly via video conference)

16.30: Outlook and final discussion with speakers and audience


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