Switzerland is a highly urbanised country. Today, the growing metropolitan areas do not correspond to the political-administrative boundaries anymore. In terms of political institutions, Swiss metropolitan areas are highly fragmented; this poses a challenge for the governance capacity in urban areas. In 2001, a federal agglomeration policy was launched, marking the first time the federal government directly interfered in urban affairs. With this new agglomeration policy, the federal government wants to foster vertical and horizontal cooperation between the different federal levels.
Whereas theories of federalism help to understand systems of interlocking politics in multi-level governance, the politics of scale approach draws attention to the relationship and the distribution of power among different federal state levels. Drawing a link between theories of federalism and the politics of scale approach, this paper proposes a theoretical framework to analyse the construction of new levels of governance and of the structures of negotiation between the different levels of governance within the multi-tiered hierarchy. Tackling the question of multilevel governance with an analysis of the politics of scale will allow me to designate new conflict lines and the change in the relationship between the different federal state levels. The paper presents first empirical results based on this theoretical framework.