Switzerland is a country made up of free cantons. That’s to say, every canton is practically an independent country. In fact, the federal government has power only on some strategic points with, currency regulation, army, and civil defense.

Even health and transportation are not run by the federal government, but by private landowners, the federal government alone regulates these structures, but for example, each canton is free to operate public transportation as it wishes. Even education that is public and of the highest quality is regulated by the cantons

Switzerland is the most liberal of all the countries of the world, that is to say, that it is the country with less intervention of the state in the economy. That is, taxes subsidize very little, and the direct costs to the taxpayer are higher, but freely chosen. In the canton where I live, Sant Gallen, the tax is more or less 11%, in Zürich, 7.75%. It was reduced in 2018 because of the fiscal surplus.

This choice of minimal government is the direct result of democracy. The equation is simple, the stronger the central government, the more authority it has. Thus, forged on oath among free imperial citizens, Switzerland chooses not to have a strong central government, invest in the education of its citizens, and let the economy flow according to the demands.

If we go back a little in time and look at the geography of Switzerland, it is easy to understand this situation. Very early, already in the years of 45 BC, Switzerland was invaded by the Romans.

In the first century, the Romans had already established here, innumerable cities, whose Roman heritage can still be seen today. At the time of the fall of Rome, but also by the very near distance and for being an obligatory commercial route, much of Switzerland was already Christian. Calculate that, Zürich has Christian martyrs of the 3rd Century.

That is to say, very soon, the Swiss cities followed the Christian moral and the way of living Romano. When in the eighth century, Carlos Magno (great French emperor who Christianized Western Europe) crossed to Switzerland to visit the Pope. He declared Zürich a free imperial city and placed it upon his personal protection. He gave to this city so Christian, two churches (Grossmünster and Frauenkirche, the first in honor of the Christian martyrs and the second as a convent for his daughter).

Charlemagne’s vows were maintained by several of his descendants and, like Milan, Floreça, Friborg, several Swiss towns passed through the low middle ages being looted, burned but economically, accounting only to the Pope. From this, it emerges that, although economically free, they were for the protection of a king or emperor. Around the year 1100, they began to organize and, in 1291, they settled the first contract of mutual protection. This model persists, more or less, until today.

It consists of an oath of the individual before the community (Gemeinde) and before God of protection and vassalage. So it was not an oath before a king, duke, or count. But an inter-communal oath. It involved people who lived in urban space, but also in the farms around them. And, the communities pledged oaths among themselves. From the organization of these communities in search of more protection (towards the free, larger and richer cities) the cantons arise.

The first protection contract between the cantons was signed in 1291. It maintained the administrative, commercial and cultural individuality. But it linked the cantons to a treaty of mutual prosecution and maintenance of security on the various trade routes that cross Switzerland. Free transit of goods.

This model was maintained in this way even with the entrance of other cantons and, from the end of the Napoleonic era Switzerland is the country of today. The educational reform initiated by the canton of Zürich in 1800, the investment in the railways also in 1800, the gigantic industrial investment in the steam revolution was not enough to prevent this small country of mountain and rocky lands from being extremely poor until the end of World War II.

Although poor, the free economy has always left its currency stable, and the reliability of its banks has caused the world to deposit here the result of its looting. Reinforcing the economy and gradually enriching the country’s peasant country.

This story of the peasants struggling to maintain their economic independence and their freedom of choice is so strong that the Swiss name (in German Schweiz and Swiss German Schwyz) comes from Schweizer, or, the peasant in the local dialect.

Zürich is today the most expensive city in the world. On the slopes of its hills are the most expensive real estate in the world. The rent of a small apartment like 3 rooms, costs R $ 12,000.00 (CHF3,500.00). But there, in the cradle of economic freedom, is also one of the highest GDP in the world, in the richest city in the world. Geneva is the second most expensive city in the world and, like Zürich, a cost of living proportional to the wealth generated at its border boundaries.

None of this came overnight, none of this began on a miracle economic plan, none of this began with scholarship and magical aid, none of this began with strong governments of holy wrists and holy promises.

Freedom, by the example given by Switzerland, is not possible with a strong central government, it is not possible without education, nor is it possible without entrepreneurship, all this investment in the long run in the timeline. In short, success, as always, is the result of effort and persistence.

Raul de Freitas Buchi

Swiss Questions