From the Old World to the Swiss Confederation


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The album entitled ‘The Fantastic Parliament’ [PDF, 14.9 MB] includes 14 texts and as many tableaux which create an illustrated epic and guide visitors from the Old World to the Swiss Confederation. Fourteen tales and as many puzzles tell the story of the emergence of the rule of law in Switzerland. Fourteen stories about Swiss institutions, and 14 white stones scattered along the road to equality of all before the law that shed light on how the federal parliament works. The magical tome that Zéphyrine Tinguely inherits from her grandfather tells us why supreme power was vested in the federal parliament and not in the Federal Council or the judiciary.

At the beginning, there were only a few Alpine valleys and towns on the Plateau that left the state of limbo of the Old World. They decided to join forces against their common enemy. These pacts of mutual assistance were the first means of limiting the power of local lords and the appetite of the major powers. Zéphyrine’s grandfather viewed these original agreements as the seeds of longing for autonomy, of the first tentative steps towards establishing the rule of law, and a harbinger of modern civil liberties.

The Confederates agreed on a name, a geographical area and common institutions. They elected their first parliament, which set out their fundamental rights in the Federal Constitution and in the cantonal constitutions.

Based on their experience of the Old World, the Swiss people were driven by the obsession of reducing the power of their authorities. The members of the Federal Assembly were quick to understand that the Swiss electorate had to be given ultimate control over the fundamental charters and the possibility to reject draft legislation that it did not agree with.

Memories of the Old World also left the Swiss people with fear of sometimes violent or even bloody conflict between tradition and modernity. The Confederates learned how to rise above their confrontations, and the federal parliament ensured that the revolutions no longer devoured their own children. Parliament thrived on the various worldviews held by the parties, and translated them into law. The law was therefore born of ideas, and the federal parliament was a faithful servant to the law.

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1) Describe your first impression of the illustrated album of The Fantastic Parliament:

a) entertaining?
b) annoying?
c) interesting?
d) confusing?
e) disappointing?
f) piqued my interest to know more?

2) Which of the following statements do you think best describe the ‘The Fantastic Parliament’ album?

a) It lays out the dry subject of parliamentary procedure in an entertaining way.
b) It provides a lesson in social issues, politics and philosophy all at once.
c) It creates confusion about myths, legends and facts established by historians.
d) It is a unilateral plea for the parliamentary institution.
e) It sparks discussion about parliament.
f) It is not as serious as an essay and is aimed at a large audience.
g) It was designed to provide aesthetic pleasure.
h) The current visual references used in the album will only appeal to the younger generation.
i) Both young people and adults read and appreciate the stories.
j) The album gives a distorted picture of history and of how the parliament works.
k) The epic nature of the album pays due tribute to the legislative institution and to the citizens’ rights.

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If you checked…

…the letters b, d, e and h for question 1,
and c, g and i, for question 2,
the online supplement to the book is specifically for you.

If you have recognised both the album’s strengths and weaknesses, feel free to pursue the adventure online.

The games and challenges of the digital world of the Fantastic Parliament may make you want to get involved in politics. Most importantly, the Fantastic Parliament encourages readers to pursue independent research into historical truths.

Finding out things for yourself is extremely satisfying. Especially once you delve into the pages of the Swiss Historical Dictionary and read the fantastic stories. The articles of the online Swiss encyclopaedia provide clear and accurate information about the history of the federal parliament, of the political parties and of the Parliament Building.

Visitors will easily be able to distinguish between the legendary world and history based on scientific research. History or civics teachers might even be able to incorporate the stories and games into their lessons. They might also appreciate having access to the historical documents that provide a wealth of information and enjoyment for visitors to the website..