Appenzell / Glarus

Ennenda: Blick von Bergstation Aeugstenbahn ins Glarnerland

Ennenda: Blick von Bergstation Aeugstenbahn ins Glarnerland

Glarus › Süd: Kantonsspital

Glarus › Süd: Kantonsspital

The Landsgemeinde is an original form of Swiss direct democracy and a unique event of its kind in the world. It takes place the last Sunday in April and the first Sunday in May.

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On a specific day, the citizens entitled to vote gather under the open sky to elect their government and courts, and to decide about laws and financial matters. The first officially documented Landsgemeinde took place in 1294, three years after the historic alliance (the Rütli oath) of the founding cantons in 1291.

In some of the cantons of Central and Eastern Switzerland and in districts of Canton Schwyz and Canton Graubünden this form of direct democracy possible only in smaller areas still exists. Once a year, a few thousand voters congregate in the open for the Landsgemeinde, a folkmute or openair assembly.

They select representatives for cantonal offices and dispose of business pertaining to cantonal matters within the assembly's jurisdiction. Sometimes there are heated discussions, in which anyone can participate. Voting is done by the raising of hands, with experienced men estimating whether a majority exists. In case of doubt, an exact count is called for. In harmony with the venerable age of the Landsgemeinde, certain traditions and ceremonies have remained, but these vary from place to place.

The men of Appenzell (the women have no vote on cantonal issues, but do on federal questions) are obliged to carry a sword.

In Glarus, the children are allowed to stand within the ring formed by the voters, so that they may learn their duties as a citizen in the years to come. During the discussions, the Landammann, or highest official, often supports himself with his sword of office, which he carries at the head of the opening procession as a sign of the dignity of his position.

In Stans, the signal to walk to the meeting place outside the town is given by blowing an ancient horn, a reminder of the ancient call to battle.

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