Swiss, Italian - Sociopolitical Organization



Social Organization. Besides the local open-air restaurants ( grotto ), which serve as informal, public meeting places, in the villages there are a variety of associations, although they have lost their initial political or religious significance. On the level of regional ethnie identity, the ideals of conserving nature and preserving tradition are emphasized. The activities and ceremonies of the confraternità association are centered on a church patron. A Catholic movement with slightly fundamentalist or traditionalist tendencies, called "Communione e liberazione," supports them and the Religious processions they organize. Traditional music bands ( fanfare ) with political significance (radical-liberal vs. Christian-Democrat bands of the villages in the nineteenth century) are today mostly apolitical. Shooting associations from the same epoch and sporting clubs, founded from the 1920s on, today organize carnivals, summer parties, and walking tours.

Quite a few cultural events and festivities ( festa dei fiori as an imitation of the fetes des vendanges of Vevey, the May dance, and polenta and risotto banquets) were introduced in Ticino. They are attempts to add a folkloric element to the culture and are also tourist attractions.

Political Organization. The political organization of Switzerland is federalistic and democratic. It is structured on the levels of the confederation, the cantons, the districts (only juridical), and the community. There is a parliament ( gran consiglio del Ticino, general assembly of the community) and an executive branch ( consiglieri dello stato, consiglieri della commune ), with members elected to four-year terms in a proportional election.

In the middle of the nineteenth century, Ticino was known as liberal and there was a broad support for the Lombardic liberation movement. The political pattern of the nineteenth century (liberals vs. conservatives) is still alive, despite the introduction of the Social Democratic party in the 1920s and its splinter groups. But neither the liberals (Partito Liberale Radicale) nor the Christian Democrats (PCD) can command an absolute majority today. In the last fifteen years four new parties joined in elections: Diritti Democratici Ticinesi; Partito Socialista dei Lavoratori; Partito Sozioliberale Federalisti Europei; and the Lega Lombarda. Those political groups show where the political future of Ticino lies. The elections are no longer major political battles, as the number of people who vote has shrunk (as everywhere else in Switzerland) to an average of a third or a half of the population.

Social Control. In urban centers where anonymity is growing, publicity in the press has assumed a role in social control. Until recently, social control in the villages was exercised by the church, the political party, and the family. Today these institutions have weakened considerably.

Conflict. Coexistence with the German Swiss neorurali is an example of conflict in the village context today. They are also called capelloni, because of the long hair some of them once wore; today this term is used for any man wearing long hair and dressing alternatively. As the neorurali differ from the natives in ideology and values, their alternative life-style is subject to gossip, rumors, and even legal sanctions (prohibition of settlement). Thus, the presence of the neorurali Triggers feelings of anger among the Italian Swiss about their own "miserable" past and the colonizing German Swiss of the past and the present.


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