|Birth of Switzerland|
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Switzerland had a rough birth. Napoleon brought the French conception of a centralized state in 1798 when he invaded the country and christened it as “The Helvetic Republic”. But this system did not work for the Swiss, and the French emperor had to change it in 1803: the Mediation Act sanctioned the principle of a federal system with then 19 cantons. After Napoleon’s defeat in 1815, Swiss neutrality was officially recognized by the European powers. In the decades that followed, the liberal bourgeoisie clashed with the conservative. After a short civil war in 1847,the Radical Party (Liberal) came to power and gave Switzerland its constitution in 1848.
At the beginning the Swiss did not share much in common, as they spoke many different languages and were divided by religion and custom. However, they had a common mistrust of the powerful states that surrounded them.
Nowadays, the cohabitation between the different groups functions quite well compared to countries with similar cultural differences such as Belgium or Canada, even if from time to time some political clashes occur between the Swiss Germans (the majority) and the Swiss French (the minority). A recent example happened with the national vote for the entry of Switzerland in the EU in 1992, where the German-speaking Swiss refused despite the enthusiasm of a majority of the French-speaking Swiss for the new European order.
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