Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung November 1848

Joint Sitting of the Councils. — The Federal Council

Source: MECW Volume 8, p. 97;
Written: by Engels on November 26, 1848;
First published: in Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 156, November 30, 1848.

Berne, November 26. Contrary to the intention and declared purpose that the Federal Councillors Druey and Franscini were both to be sworn in at yesterday’s joint sitting of the Councils, only the former was sworn in. Franscini had not arrived as heavy snow had held up the stage-coach over the St. Gotthard. The Federal Council was then empowered to swear in those Federal Councillors and Federal judges who did not arrive until after the eventual adjournment of the two legislative Councils.

A sitting of the Council of States had taken place earlier to discuss the draft Bill adopted two days ago by the National Council on the question of the federal capital. This question, which had already been posed in a complicated manner by the National Council, was here made even more complicated. Fazy of Geneva proposed a motion to keep the seat of government in Berne for a provisional period of one year, and in the meantime to work out a more detailed law which would also include the obligations to be imposed on the canton with regard to the security of the federal authorities. The question was being treated much too lightly. The Swiss people should also first be given an opportunity to express its wishes. Briatte of Waadt, President of the Council of States, shared this opinion. Other members proposed further amendments: that the seat of the Federal Government should be determined by a vote at a joint sitting; that like the old Vorort it should be changed, but only every six years, at least until the federal university is established etc. The debate had to be broken off because the time allocated for the joint sitting had expired; it will be resumed today. Rüttimann (Zurich) proposed to refer the draft back to the commission together with the amendments.

After the joint sitting, the National Council remained assembled to discuss the draft Bill submitted by the Federal Council on taking over all the Swiss postal establishments by the Confederation as from January 1, 1849, with the individual cantons continuing meanwhile to administer them until the postal system is finally settled, but the federal authorities having full powers to alter the rounds etc., etc. The draft was adopted séance tenante [on the spot] with slight changes by Druey and others. Today the National Council is discussing the law proposed by the radical Dr. Emil Frei (Baselland) on responsibility of the executive officials of the Swiss Confederation; and, time permitting, the draft Bill proposed by Ochsenbein on the establishment of a federal university.

The Federal Council, the executive authority, has already sat several times. Provisionally, Furrer has taken over external affairs, Ochsenbein military affairs and Frei-Herose finance. The Federal Council of War has been accordingly thanked for its services and suspended from activity. The Federal Council has further decided to announce to the cantons, to Switzerland’s diplomatic agents abroad and to the foreign powers that it has been constituted. It has likewise decided to lodge a complaint with the Imperial Government regarding the territorial violation in the canton of Zurich, and at the same time to make inquiries, in the relevant cantons, as to the behaviour of the refugees and the truth of the facts published by the imperial authorities in the Oberpostamts-Zeitung.[113]