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Which additional countries could have realistically adopted a Swiss-style cantonal system?

WolfBear

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Which additional countries could have realistically adopted a Swiss-style cantonal system? For instance, in this alternate history article about Franz Ferdinand surviving, it had the Kingdom of Hungary adopt such a cantonal system:


On 15 March, the day of the 1848 liberal revolution, Oszkár Jászi, the Minister for the National Minorities, submitted three bills on self-government (partly territorial, partly cultural) for the Slovaks, Rusyns, and Germans. The model was the cantonal system of Switzerland. A separate bill changed the borders of the counties (and the constituencies) so as to make them correspond, as far as possible, to the national composition of the population. In the overwhelmingly Romanian, Saxon, and Serb counties, cultural autonomy ensured the use of the language of the majority in the schools and in local government, naturally without restricting the use of Hungarian. After often heated debates, the House passed the new laws with overwhelming majorities. King Charles deliberately chose to endorse these laws on 11 April, the day when his predecessor approved the famous April Laws in 1848, the foundation of modern constitutional Hungary. The world press was full of praise for the Hungarians who had voluntarily given up their privileges for the second time since 1848. A leading article in The Times congratulated both the Hungarians and their minorities. It said that by recognizing the European mission of the Monarchy and their basic common interests, they had overcome the policy of national egotism, and with that, they called upon the peoples living in the other half of the realm of the Habsburgs to follow this example. According to the archives of The Times, the author of the article was the foreign editor, H. W. Steed.29 The National Széchényi Library holds his letter to Mrs Ferenc Hampel, née Polyxena Pulszky, dated 12 April 1918. ‘Dear Poly, I’ll never forget the warm welcome you gave me and Rose in your home seventeen years ago. I know that a few years later you were pained reading my critical reports of the Hungarian Coalition, because you felt they were attacks on your nation. The dramatic events of the last two years—I am confident—justified both of us: among the Hungarians the political acumen and responsibility which marked Deák, Eötvös, and the young István Tisza, have come to prevail. You, my dear Poly, your late father, your husband and sons were such outstanding representatives of that tradition. Fifty years after the Ausgleich, the wisest Hungarian leaders concluded with the dynasty and its Austro-German people, a new generation of gifted Hungarians have brought about an even more difficult compact with their own national minorities. That is what your respected father, Ferenc, and his friend, Lajos Kossuth, wished for in the years of their exile. It is now that the vision of the great István Széchenyi can be realized, so that the multinational Kingdom of Hungary’s future may be even brighter than its glory was in its best former periods.’30
Could Austria have done the same thing? And could other territories, such as British India post-independence, especially if it would have successfully avoided partition in this TL, have likewise adopted the same or at least a similar Swiss-style cantonal model for themselves?
 

Skallagrim

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Belgium could work this way, if you devolve like 90% of all authority to these cantons, and terminate the deadlock of the current system.

But frankly, if you do that, you might as well split up the country.
 

WolfBear

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Belgium could work this way, if you devolve like 90% of all authority to these cantons, and terminate the deadlock of the current system.

But frankly, if you do that, you might as well split up the country.
Why aren't Swiss eager to split up their own country? Because of its innovations in regards to things such as direct democracy and neutrality?
 

Skallagrim

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Why aren't Swiss eager to split up their own country? Because of its innovations in regards to things such as direct democracy and neutrality?
It's because they feel pretty happy being Swiss. The country was formed, basically, out of a desire not to be gobbled up by the imperialist neighbours. The Swiss have historically been united in their desire for independence, and their form of organisation (initially, and for a long time therafter, a loose confederacy) was ideally suited to effecting this while not infringing on the freedoms of the various groups.

(Sadly, over time, centralism has crept in, and Switzerland has become less and less free over time. Each passing decade, there is more centralist governance infringing on local self-determination.)


...Anyway, the reason it works for Switzerland is thus clarified. The reason this wouldn't work for Belgium is that there are presently no shared interests. The current system divides the country into effectively two halves (Flemish and Wallonian) and declares "nothing can be done unless both parties agree". The Wallonians effectively hold the country hostage: no reform can be effected without their consent, but the current system economically leeches Flanders and pours the profits into Wallonian coffers. So reforming the country into decentralised cantons that all make much of their own rules and have to finance their own budgets is something Wallonia will never accept.

Wallonia would just as soon see the country split, because if they can't leech of Flanders anymore, the reason they want Belgium to exist is no longer there.


This is the reason why the best reform for Belgium is just splitting it up. The same applies to the suggested case of Iraq, by the way. In both cases, their is no common cause. I feel that a loose confederacy is the least bad form of governmental strucure, but it still only makes sense if the people involved actually like each other...
 

Cherico

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Belgium could work this way, if you devolve like 90% of all authority to these cantons, and terminate the deadlock of the current system.

But frankly, if you do that, you might as well split up the country.
Belgium was a mistake the whole reason they exist was to be a buffer state between France and Germany and they failed in the worst way twice
 

WolfBear

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It's because they feel pretty happy being Swiss. The country was formed, basically, out of a desire not to be gobbled up by the imperialist neighbours. The Swiss have historically been united in their desire for independence, and their form of organisation (initially, and for a long time therafter, a loose confederacy) was ideally suited to effecting this while not infringing on the freedoms of the various groups.

(Sadly, over time, centralism has crept in, and Switzerland has become less and less free over time. Each passing decade, there is more centralist governance infringing on local self-determination.)


...Anyway, the reason it works for Switzerland is thus clarified. The reason this wouldn't work for Belgium is that there are presently no shared interests. The current system divides the country into effectively two halves (Flemish and Wallonian) and declares "nothing can be done unless both parties agree". The Wallonians effectively hold the country hostage: no reform can be effected without their consent, but the current system economically leeches Flanders and pours the profits into Wallonian coffers. So reforming the country into decentralised cantons that all make much of their own rules and have to finance their own budgets is something Wallonia will never accept.

Wallonia would just as soon see the country split, because if they can't leech of Flanders anymore, the reason they want Belgium to exist is no longer there.


This is the reason why the best reform for Belgium is just splitting it up. The same applies to the suggested case of Iraq, by the way. In both cases, their is no common cause. I feel that a loose confederacy is the least bad form of governmental strucure, but it still only makes sense if the people involved actually like each other...
FWIW, I certainly wouldn't mind splitting Belgium up if that's what the Belgian people themselves will actually want to happen. Walloonia would go to France and Flanders would go to the Netherlands in such a scenario, right? What about Brussels? Would it become its own independent city-state as the EU capital?

As for Iraq, this article could be a good read for you:


This article made me skeptical about partitioning Iraq into separate ethnoreligious units, FWIW.
 

WolfBear

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Belgium was a mistake the whole reason they exist was to be a buffer state between France and Germany and they failed in the worst way twice
lol! :D

Anyway, I'm personally a fan of the idea of adding Walloonia to France with mutual consent:





@Skallagrim What specifically makes Flanders wealthier than Walloonia nowadays?
 

Skallagrim

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This article made me skeptical about partitioning Iraq into separate ethnoreligious units, FWIW.
That whole article makes a case against a confederal Iraq, with such argument as this:

"If it could be triggered, how would a tri-partite state be ruled, and why would it be viable? Under current conditions, Baghdad’s relationship with Sunni and Kurdish areas is poor at best. Under partition, the Shi’a-led government would be under less pressure to work with or support the Sunni Arabs. Incentives for cross-sectarian collaboration would be less under partition than within a unified government. Therefore, it would be entirely unreasonable to assume that the relationship between the Shi’a and Sunni Arab Iraqis would improve under a devolved system of federation or confederation."

My whole point here is that such a devolution wouldn't be a good idea, and that outright splitting Iraq into their 100% sovereign countries would the superior approach.



@Skallagrim What specifically makes Flanders wealthier than Walloonia nowadays?
Not being a bunch of chronically work-shy socialists tends to help.
 

TheRomanSlayer

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What makes Switzerland work? I'd guess geography, since they're surrounded by mountains.

The North Caucasus, if they separated from Russia. A Manchukuo that eventually became truly independent from Japan would have a canton system that would consist of Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Mongol, and Manchu cantons. Add in a canton consisting of White Russian refugees dominating it as well.

A post-apartheid South Africa that breaks apart, a la Yugoslavia, with the Afrikaner Volkstaat becoming independent, and rump South Africa that consists of all the Bantustans would also work.
 

WolfBear

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That whole article makes a case against a confederal Iraq, with such argument as this:

"If it could be triggered, how would a tri-partite state be ruled, and why would it be viable? Under current conditions, Baghdad’s relationship with Sunni and Kurdish areas is poor at best. Under partition, the Shi’a-led government would be under less pressure to work with or support the Sunni Arabs. Incentives for cross-sectarian collaboration would be less under partition than within a unified government. Therefore, it would be entirely unreasonable to assume that the relationship between the Shi’a and Sunni Arab Iraqis would improve under a devolved system of federation or confederation."

My whole point here is that such a devolution wouldn't be a good idea, and that outright splitting Iraq into their 100% sovereign countries would the superior approach.
I suspect that his points also applied to a full partition of Iraq, though maybe I misunderstood him here.

What makes Switzerland work? I'd guess geography, since they're surrounded by mountains.

The North Caucasus, if they separated from Russia. A Manchukuo that eventually became truly independent from Japan would have a canton system that would consist of Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Mongol, and Manchu cantons. Add in a canton consisting of White Russian refugees dominating it as well.

A post-apartheid South Africa that breaks apart, a la Yugoslavia, with the Afrikaner Volkstaat becoming independent, and rump South Africa that consists of all the Bantustans would also work.
The North Caucasus would be pretty cool, that's for sure! And an independent Transylvania as well, with Hungarian/Magyar/Szekely, German, and Romanian cantons:

 

WolfBear

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A Czechoslovakia with its own cantonal system would also be pretty neat:



There would likely be German, Czech, Slovak, Polish, Hungarian, and Ruthenian cantons in it.
 

WolfBear

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A Yugoslavia with its own cantonal system would have been pretty epic as well:



There would have likely been Slovene, Croat, Bosniak Muslim, Montenegrin, Serbian, non-Bosniak Muslim, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Albanian, and Macedonian cantons.

Pretty epic!
 

PeaceMaker 03

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What about for Afghanistan?

Interestingly enough, Iraq is a federal state rather than a unitary state, and it does have a lot of governorates:


But I doubt that they have the same level of autonomy as Swiss cantons have.
Afghanistan even at it's best was not a country.... no matter what the map says.

The Afghan government is a fiction, and warlords/ tribes run their own fiefs.
The government did more pillaging of the coffers than governing of the country. Little will change under the new management except less aid to pilfer.

So in answer to your question, no Afghanistan would not be good country to have a Canton system.
 

PeaceMaker 03

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Something to always remember when looking at the world map. France and UK left their fingerprints all over it.
Overlay a cultural map and a national map and you will say many former colonies that have cultural groupings divided between two or more countries.

This allowed European powers to have influence in former colonies, many former colonies are still colonies except in name.
 

WolfBear

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Afghanistan even at it's best was not a country.... no matter what the map says.

The Afghan government is a fiction, and warlords/ tribes run their own fiefs.
The government did more pillaging of the coffers than governing of the country. Little will change under the new management except less aid to pilfer.

So in answer to your question, no Afghanistan would not be good country to have a Canton system.
What about a cantonal system for a surviving Ottoman Empire?


This allowed European powers to have influence in former colonies, many former colonies are still colonies except in name.
Not enough colonialism, apparently, since hundreds of millions of Third Worlders still want to move to the West. Maybe more colonialism in their home countries would be a good alternative solution to this instead.
 
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