Soon I will switch to posting videos about direct democracy.

We need Swiss style direct-representative democracy as soon as possible in all democracies because representative democracy polarises people. produces gridlock, gives politicians and the too much power.

So excessive is the power of politicians and lobbies that the will of the people is often ignored. In representative democracies, voters only count at election time. In a direct democracy, votes count all the time because they have the power to launch referendums on any law or issue, and the results of the referendums must be acted upon by the elected politicians.

Direct democracy drastically reduces polarisation, increases cooperation, increases the trust in politicians, voters become much more responsible voters, etc. We know it worked because the Swiss experience of over 150 years clearly shows direct-representative democracy works much better than representative democracy.

I realise people prefer video/sound. Video is more entertaining and also has more presence than writing. Podcasting the sound of the video makes it possible to lessen while doing many activities.

Switching to posting video and sound episodes is a lot of work to make it work, technically and also to communicate effectively.

I hope to post the text of each video here.

Most people seem to prefer to watch/listen, instead of reading.

I intend to use YouTube, Rumble, etc.

Thank you.

Victor Lopez

Why if Russia and China had direct democracy, Ukraine and Taiwan would be safe. The US and others would also be involved in fewer wars.

Now that we face the totally unjustified invasion of Ukraine by Russia, as well as the potential invasion of the Republic of China by the People’s Republic of China, I think it is of great interest to figure out this: If Russia were a direct democracy, would it have invaded Ukraine? If The People’s Republic of Chine were a direct democracy, will it show the same ambition of taking Taiwan over by force?

I am convinced if Russia had direct democracy, it would have not invaded Ukraine. I am also convinced that if the People’s Republic evolves into a direct democracy, it will have no interest in invading Taiwan.

When I speak of direct democracy, I refer to Swiss style direct democracy, which on all major issues is direct democracy because the people directly decide any major controversial policy, law or article of the constitution.

On major issues that are not controversial, or that require an immediate decision by government, Switzerland keeps many elements of representative democracy. Like most representative democracies, Switzerland has two legislative chambers and also an executive.

The key difference is, the Swiss people have the power, and exercise it regularly, to stop executive policies and laws approved by the politicians. They also have the power to force politicians to put in place new policies and laws.

I refer to Switzerland as the practical proof that direct democracy works because Switzerland has been practising direct democracy for over 150 years and there is practically universal consensus Switzerland is the most stable, best governed, most prosperous society in the World.

I am certain it is because of the way the Swiss practice direct democracy, and because they practice it in all levels of government, they hace “trained themselves” in its application. They do so by voting four times per year on policies and laws, and they are responsible for the consequences of their decisions; they can not blame the politicians, like it happens in representative democracies. Because they still keep important aspects of representative democracy, the Swiss also vote every four years to elect representatives.

One of the effects of direct democracy is that, by placing major decisions in the hands of the people, for example, declaring war, the people are extremely reluctant to die in a war of aggression; it would be them, not the politicians, who will send themselves, their fathers, children, brothers to die.

Even representative democracies are very reluctant to attack if not threatened because public opinion, the next election prospects, concern the politicians. But are not as reluctant because the politicians do not risk their own death, that is the hard truth.

If representative democracies had armed forces composed of conscripts, they will even more reluctant to send citizens to their deaths in any war where national security is not directly at stake, because the political consequences will be harsher for the politicians.

Perhaps one of the huge mistakes the United States, and other representative democracies, have made is to switch to professional soldiers whose job is to fight when and where the politicians decide. Such a system gives politicians some political immunity because those who die signed up voluntarily, they know it is part of their job to go, fight and risk death.

Switzerland, as you might have guessed, has armed forces where even most officers are conscripts. But it is more than that, Swiss citizens are part of the armed forces every year for many years, until they are too old to serve. Every year, the Swiss military involves otherwise ordinary Swiss citizens holding regular jobs in military training. They do so to have relatively big armed forces, trained and ready if Switzerland is attacked.

So in the Swiss system, we have powerful factors deterring Switzerland from attacking anyone, unless attacked first; the citizens will be responsible for the decision to attack, the citizens will send fellow citizens and/or themselves, to their deaths. It is a lot harder for a Swiss citizen to justify a war than for the politicians lacking direct democracy and having a professional military.

Perhaps that is one reason the Swiss also declare themselves neutral.

If Russia had Swiss style direct democracy, the Russian people would never send themselves and other citizens, fathers, sons brothers to conquer Ukraine. Particularly women would reject sending their husbands, fathers and children to attack Ukraine just because Ukraine wants to join NATO. It is absurd to think that, even with Ukraine in NATO, Ukraine and NATO present a danger to Russia, a Russia whose nuclear weapons ensure nobody would dare attack it.

By the way, I doubt that if the Ukraine had direct democracy, its citizens would have given up the nuclear weapons they had. Certainly the Russians would not have attacked if Ukraine had nuclear weapons aimed at Russia.

It is another issue, but Taiwan, Japan and other countries in the South China Sea should have nuclear weapons to deter the aggressive posturing of China. Israel shows why, even with its powerful US Jewish community, it does not rely on the US for final protection. It is the weaker countries living next to nuclear or non-nuclear dictatorships and fanatics who need the nuclear deterrent.

I am sure also that if ordinary Americans had to decide the involvement of the US in foreign wars, they would have said no to many of them, particularly if it was them, their friends and relatives who would risk death.

The obvious conclusion is: direct democracy will contribute to peace in the World. Direct democracy is not just a matter of “we pay, we must decide critical laws and policies, not just elect representatives”. It is more than that; “we are the ones to die, we must decide when to declare war”.

Think about it but, even better, study Swiss direct democracy; you will convince yourself it is a better, more moral system, more rational too.

Of course, in a direct democracy, Putin, Xi and even Biden could not send their citizens to their deaths attacking others without the explicit approval of the citizens.

Victor Lopez

This is how Canada, and other countries too, would handle the trucker’s protests if they had direct democracy

Canada is divided; millions of Canadians consider the truckers heroes, millions of other Canadian consider that truckers nuts, selfish. The Canadian Prime Minister,  Justin Trudeau, even called the truckers people who hate women and nazis.

I do not know if it was before or after he said that but in social media many people seem to be in line with Trudeau’s thinking. Sympathisers of the truckers accused of totalitarian, etc.

I do not know if Trudeau’s actions are legal, the courts will decide that once the legal challenges work their way through the justice system.

What I am presenting to you here is how Canada would have handled the people who oppose the vaccine mandates and the trucker’s protest if the country had direct democracy at the national level.

The most important thing to know is that the trucker’s protest would not have happened if Canada was a direct democracy. Yes, it would not have happened, one or more key reasons.

First, let me briefly tell you what direct democracy is.

Direct democracy means “government by the people”. Well, that is the meaning of the word “democracy”. In Ancient Greece  citizens made all the important decisions; they met in a public place, debated different issues, proposed laws, they voted and tin this way theyant executive and legislativ made most significative decisions. They did not have politicians or political parties, each individual decide based on his understanding of what he considered the best decision for the common good and himself.

That it what democracy is; the people decide in an orderly manner and without politicians deciding for them, or telling them they should vote this or that way because of some ideology or because what the politician thought was the best decision for the nation.

But do we have to use the term “direct democracy” as if it was another form of democracy? Because, in fact, the only democracy is direct democracy. Representative democracy is democracy only when the people vote to elect representatives. Once elected, the politicians behave as an electe oligarchy because, as a class or group, the have all the executive and legislative power.

In representative democracy, depending on the results of elections, the government sometimes has control of the executive and legislative. Besides that, in many representative democracies, the government appoints the judges to the highest court in the land.

The term “direct democracy” would not be necessary if it during the French Revolution, when clumsy attempts to (direct) democracy never succeeded and  degenerated into mob rule and dictatorship, even terror.

To bring things under control, some leaders of the French Revolution decided that direct rule by the people did not work because they believed the average person was not capable of deciding correctly and because the country was too large or the people to make all important decisions directly.

Among those leaders, one of them, Robespierer said: “The Revolution should aim to  establish a democratic or republican government; these two words are synonymous”. He also said that democracy was not “a state wherein the people continually assemble to manage the public affairs all by themselves. Democracy is a state wherein the sovereign people, guide by the laws of their own making, does all that it can properly do, on its own, and does by delegates all that it can not do itself”.

When he said that he redefined democracy. Until then “democracy” meant democracy as practised by the Ancient Greeks in Athens and in dozens of other independent Greek city-states; the people decide all important issues, and the people decided which issues were important by bringing them up before a public assembly of thousands in the case ot Athens. The popular assembly listened to arguments for and against and then voted to decide how to address the issue.

Others felt that democracy, as practised by the Greeks was not feasible in large countries with large populationbecause Athens, the largest Greek city-state, had approximately 250 000 inhabitants,

The Ancient Greeks proved is that democracy, real democracy, direct democracy works, that it had nothing to do with the “mob rule” of the French Revolution.

Greek democracy did not die by degenerating into a mob or a dictatorship. Greek democracy died the same way democracy in France, Belgium, the Netherland died when they were invaded by the Nazis; it died when the Macedonians invaded the Greek city-states.

Just in case you do not know, the Macedonians were no democrats, they were ruled by a king with absolute power, much like the French king beheaded by the French revolutionaries.

Alexander the Great was Macedionian, he was no democrat, he was an absolute ruler who through military conquest created a huge empire. Under democracy, neither Athens, nor the other Greek city states created an empire. Perhaps they didn’t because in a real democracy, where ordinary people decide, the people are not very interested in initiating wars where their children or themselves would die. In a real democracy, people go to  war only if attacked. They are not interested in fighting to conquer or having control of far away places in search of gold, oil, or whatever because they would voting for their own deaths.

But let us go back to the French Revolution. Robespierre and others prevailed; “the people are not fit to decide and the country is too big for democracy (Greek style). One result was that Robespierre himself emerged as one of the rulers “representing the people”.

But already during the French Revolution, one of the deputies in the Assembly, Pierre Francoise Joseph Robert, pointed out that representative democracy is an impossibility. He said: “There is no democracy with national representation, and those who wish to adapt the principles of democratic government to a representative government are either imbeciles who disrupt without knowing it, or rogues who knowingly disrupt in the hope of not losing the fruits of anarchy”.

Robert was right because soon, the so-called representative democracy degenerated into a totalitarian regimeof terror. Representative democracy was such failure that the French Revolution got rid of absolute rule by the King but ended up with an Emperor.  Many say Napoleon was an enlightened emperor, but an emperor, not a democrat.

Soon, Robespierre himself, with his behaviour, showed that Robert was right. Robespierre, the proponent of representative democracy demonstrated that “representative democracy” was not democracy.

In a short time, as the elected leader “representing the people” of The Committee (of the Revolution) for Public Safety, he became the leader of the “Reign of Terror”, a bloody dictator.

That could not have happened in Ancient Greek democracy because nobody was elected to any comparable post, no way anyone would have been given the powers the leaders of the French Revolution and Robespierre had.

Representative democracy has become a guge improvement over absolute oppressive rulers. In representative democracy, the people have freedom of expression and have the power to decide who will govern, but is not democracy because the people do not govern, neither do they have the power to kill policies and laws passed by the politicians. They do not have the power to tell the policians that they must put in place policies and laws the people may want to increase taxes or reduce taxes to individuals or  business, institute universal health care, affordable education at all levels, reduce or increase the size of the armed forces, etc.

To “protect” the Revolution and, presumably its ideas of “freedom, equality, fraternity”, Robespierre ordered or encouraged the execution of approximately 17 000 French people, another 10 000 died in prison. The 17000 executed were killed in less than 10 months, from September 5, 1793 to July 28, 1794. This means that, on average, every day 57 people were excuted, as “enemies of the Revolution”.

The terror ended when even Robespierre’s “colleagues” had enough with blood spilled, literaly spilled, because the execution was by guillotine. On July 28, 1794 Robespierre and his associate Louis Antoine Leon de Saint-Just (what a name for a murderer!) were executed, “before a cheering crowd”, such is the degeneration possible in a representative democracy.

First Robespierre misused his powers to kill the “enemies of the Revolution”, then other “democratic” leaders decided it was time to excite the people and kill Robespierre.

But that is not the only time representative “democracy” degenerates into chaos or “order” under terror. German representative democracy degenerated into Nazism; it is even a more terrifying example.

But those are not the only examples; plenty of countries around the World had representative democracies that so polarized the country that they ended up in civil wars, coups and dictatorships of the Left or the Right. Right now we have several examples.

But no direct democracy has degenerated into terror, chaos, etc. The French during the Revolution had the intention of establishing a direct democracy, real democracy but, for a number of reasons, were unable to do so.

Had France been a direct democracy, Mapoleon would not have the powers he had. It is also unimaginable that if the people had the opportunity to decide, they would have authorized the sending of French soldiers (themselves) to their deaths all over Europe.

The death of Robespierre ended the “Reign of Terror”, but did not bring democracy or peace, it brough the “White Terror” against Robespierre’s party and followers. It was not nearly as bad as Robespierre’s terror, but it was terror.

The root problem in representative democracies, in countries where the people elect their representatives, continues to this day. The problem is that the elected politicians have too much power; the people only have the power to vote or not vote for politicians but, once the election is over, the people have not the formal, orderly, established process to exercise their power and stop the politicians from doing something most citizens oppose, or to force the politicians to do what most people want them to do.

In other words, in a representative democracy, once the election is over, democracy is over until the next election.

So, the regimes we have in Canada, in the US, the UK, Germany, Japan, France itself and all other representatives democracies is system that as Deputy Robert would say, it is not a democracy. The Ancient Greek wpul not recognise any oth those countries as democracies, they would consider them elected aristocracy, elected oligarchy, not democracy.

It possible also to have a system that is formally a hybrid of direct and representative democracy. You can have direct-representative democracy.

This is how it works, the people continue to elect representatives, we have political parties and elections just like we have in representative democracies, but there is a huge change; the people have veto power over any law or policy formulated by the politicians, the executive and the legislative. The people can also direct the politicians to adopt new policies and pass new laws. Furthermore, the people can make changes to the constitution and must approve any change to the constitution that the elected politicians propose.

Because of those powers of voters, if Canada had a direct democracy, it almost certain the situation with the truckers would not have happened. The truckers would not have gone to Ottawa and clog the city, neither would they have blocked some border crossings.

This is how the situation would develop if Canada had a direct democracy;

The government, like governments in representative democracies would have put in place the various emergency policies necessary to deal with the pandemic two years ago, and adapt them as the effects of the virus on the health of Canadians evolved.  the government would act immediately, without asking people to decide in a referendum. That would not be different, but the nature of the policies would be very different.

One reason is that as government of direct democracy, the Canadian government would have acted taking into account public opinion much more carefully; it would know Canadian voters could set the wheels in motion to challenge, in a binding referendum initiated by the people, the government policy or laws the government might have developed to deal with the virus.

The government would have in mind also that the people could relatively easily collect the approximately 250 000 signatures necessary to have a referendum, within the required 3 months.

The Canadian government, the executive and the legislative, would also know that after the collection of signatures a binding referendum would take place. The government, even if all politicians unanimously agreed,  could not stop the referendum.

For example, if the voters decide not to support the government measures, the measures; policies or laws, would stop.

But the Canadian government also would know that up to two years can pass from the time the signatures are collected to the date of the referendum. This means the government could say: “it is not important what the people decide, by that time we will stop the policies”.

In some cases, it is possible the referndum would happen too late if the Covid crisis were to be over. But the government does not know that. This means that it would be interested in adopting policies and passing laws that not too many people would oppose, in order to prevent triggering a referendum.

Most policies and laws are not not temporary, so the goverment, and this means the executive and the legislature have to be careful to make sure most voters support what government does.

But direct democracy brings about another very interesting change; because politicians do not want their policies and laws killed by the people, the majopr parties negociate until they reach a compromise their voters will back or accept, and not actively oppose.

In time, that realisation also pushes all the major parties, not just to negotiate individual policies or laws, but to always govern in coalition. This also means 70-75% of the voters are represented in the negotiations. When  the policiy or law comes out it is highly probable it will be accepted and supported by the majority of voters.

But governing in coalition also has another effect, it eliminates the bitter fights among parties and politicians we see on the parliaments of representative democracies and in the media.  In a direct democracy, the parties have different opinions but they do not want to use words so extreme that makes it difficult to later sit down and work together with rival in a constructive team atmosphere. In representative democracies, the major parties are always on “electoral mode”, they do not want to cooperate with rivel parties, they want to discredit them because there are always on “election mode”.

The intensity of those fights is not caused by the disagreement on the issues but because in representative democracies, politicians have a lot more power than in a direct democracy and, logically, they fight to win is more agressive.

In representative democracies, parties also fight hard because to win, they believe it is essential to discredit the other party and each of the politicians of the other parties.

For example, on abortion, Democrats and Republicans in the US were unable to negotiate a compromise supported by the majority of the people. As a result, abortion ended up in the US Supreme Court. In 1973 the Court decided that abortion would be legal in the United States.

Supporters cheered, opponents experienced other emotions; anger, frustration, indignation. In other words, the issue was legally settled, but not politically.

The collective failure US politicians on abortion is of such magnitude that in 2022, almost 50 years later, those who support abortion fear that the “conservative Supreme Court” the US has now, could reverse the decision. If that happens, the Trucker’s convoy in Canada will look like nothing…

That is another problem in representative democracies; too much power in the hands of the highest courts.

The net effect is that judges, non-elected officials, but often appointed by poiliticians, end up making new laws.

This brings us to another advantage of direct democracy; in a direct democracy the constitution is a live, constantly changing document because the people, regularly, propose and execute changes to the constitution.

The result is a continuous but gradual and calm evolution of the constitution that reflects the changes in society.

In a direct democracy the constitution is not treated as a holy document; the constitution is, like ordinary laws, a reflection of the  continuously evolving values and beliefs of people.

But in a direct democracy the poltical atmosphere is calmer because referendums do not happen “next week”. For example, the established procedures do not make possible to have a referndum, next week or next month, on the dealth penalty because a mass murderer or political terrorists killed a large number of people.

That is not possible. First the people who want to have a referendum need to collect the signatures, that takes time. Once they do that, they present the signatures, then some more time passes before the vote takes place.

For example, perhaps tha country mignt establish it is not practical to have referendum many times, and on different dates, thorougout the year. This means that the referendums can take place only one or a few times each year so that the people decide several issues at once.

The time between the initiaction of the collection of signatures and the date of the referendum, gives the voters plenty of opportunity to hear arguments in favor or against, of knowing what experts, for or against, say. Voters have plenty of time  to digest and reflect on the inormation.

So, if Canada had direct democracy at the Federal level, the Trudeau Liberal government would not be the Trudeau goverment, it woul be the Liberal-Conservative-NDP government.

The point of view of the truckers and many others who oppose or support the vaccine mandates, would have been considered in far more detail. It if turned out, as some polls indicate, that 2/3 of Canadians support mandatory vaccination for the truckers and many others, the leaders of the Conservative Party would know that many of their supporters are for mandatory vaccination. This would mean that it would be very unlikely those disagreeing would want a referendum they had few chances of winning.

But if they did pursue a referendum, and lost, what could they do? It would be absurd to organize a protest convoy to force the government to change its decision; they would know the government could do nothing, that once the peoiple decided to support the measures, the decision was a gold-plated, a truly democractic decision that te Canadian governement could not ignore or reverse.

Nobody could challenge the decision in the Supreme Court either. This is because in a direct democracy, the Suppreme Court would be forbidden to evaluate the results of a referendum on constitutional grounds. Remember that the people make the constitution as the values of the people change.

Some people are scared that, in a direct democracy, the majority of people may make the wrong decision, that they will oppress minorities, etc. The experience of the Ancient Greek democracies shows is not that at all.

In a direct democracy there is no “majority” in the sense there is a majority in a representative democracy. In a direct democracy, the people vote each issue on its merits, not in terms of progressive of condervative ideologies. Ideologies that are futile attempts to predefine solutions based on ideology for every problem.

In a direct democracy, the majority may vote “progressive” to have universal health care. A different majority may vote conservative on immigration. Direct democracy is far more flexible.

Minorities have nothing to fear in a direct democracy because direct democracy brings political stability, it delivers good government. When tha country is free, stable and well governed, minorities are safe. Minorities are in peril in representative democracies because too often the elected politicians do not govern in tune with the people. When that happens, the system becomes unstableL we all know what happens to minorities when there is turmoil.

In a direct democracy, because voters know they are responsible for the consequences of their decisions, this pushes them to vote very responsibly. In a direct democracy, voters can not later blame the politicians; they have the power to stop the politicians and to tell the politicians what policies and laws they must put in place.

Conclusion: Canada would not be submerged in the polarising mess it is now if it had direct democracy; the goverment would have have made a more thoughtful decision because the decision would represent the consideration of the three major parties. The truckers would not have organised the protest because they would have known that the politicians representing the vast majority of voters were behind the law. It is very unlikey they would organise the protest convoy. because it would be clear to them the majority of Canadians would not support them.

At most, what they would do is collect the signatures and organise the referendum. If they lost it, that would be it. If they won, the government would have to come with new policies that would exclude mandatory vaccination for the truckers and perhaps everyone else.

How do I feel so sure about how things would work out in a direct democracy? Because that is what happened in Switzerland, where they have direct-representative democracy.

Many Swiss oppose the policies the Swiss government put in place to fight the Covid virus. They collected the required number of signatures, 50 000 and forced a referendum. This past November the Swiss voted and 62% decided to back the measures put in place by the government. As long as the government does not make any major controversial change, nobody will dare to protest the measures.

Switzerland does not have manadatory vaccinations and it seems the controversy over Covid measures settled.

It is not often that the people challeng the consensus-based policies and laws the Swiss government puts in place, but sometimes it happens, as it did in this case.

The option the people of  direct democracy have to force a referendum acts as the final safety valve.  If the majority of voters agree with them, the government has to withdraw the law oer policy. If the voters disagree with the proponents  of the referendum, the issue is closed by the most democratic of decisions; no more protests, no more “convoys”…

After a referendum, the issues is settled and people move on.

What has happened in Canada’s representative democracy is the opposite; division has grown, the government will be challenged in the Supreme Court, the truckers and others are angrier because, until know, they “only” felt the government had imposed excessive covid measures, from now on they feel gthey have been mistreated; detained, their bank accounts blocked, could end un in prison, tremendous economic hardship.

It can not be ecluded that even more people have been antagonized by the Canadian government because themajor political issue now might have evolved into one related to unjustified use of an emergency law not meant to deal with, basically peaceful although annoying to many, political protests of this magnitude.

In view of the situation, whic direct democracy would have prevented, I hope many Canadians will feel motivated now to incorporate key elementsof direct democracy into Canada’s representative democracy.

That is precisely what the Swiss did, more than 150 years ago and, coincidentally, also as a result of the mismanagement of another pandemic by the politicians of the representative democracy Switzerland had at the time.

I do not have to tell you Switzerland is the most stable, better governed country in the World. In true direct democracy fashion, Swiss voters sometimes become a majority of “progressives”, that is why,for example, Switzerland has universal health care, best in the World, affordable university education, excellent pensions, legalized gay marriage, they have a wealth tax, etc. But sometimes they vote “conservative”; turned down a proposal to increase taxes to business, banned having the face covered in public, banned the minarets of mosques above a certain height, they control immigration, etc.

Victor Lopez

In a representative democracy, once the election is over, democracy is over too until the next election

In representative democracies, you still have freedom to criticise the elected politicians. You can take to the streets and write letters to your elected representatives.

You can also go to the traditional media and make thousands or millions aware of whatever issue concerns you, but that will help only if the media decides to give you air time. As you know, the media does not have to do that. Besides, given the massive politicisation of most traditional media, chances are they will only air your cause if it aligns with their editorial line.

This means that, in most cases, your cause has to be considered progressive or conservative. It has to align with the major parties. Your chances of air time are very close to zero if criticze of the conservative or progressive established parties, or all of them. If the conservative media give you air time it is enough for progressive media to write you off, likewise in the opposite case.

But even if they give you air time, there is air time, and there is air time.

They can give you air time to shoot down your position and try to discredit it. This means they give you air time to discredit you, not to give you unbiased air time. Or they give you air time once, which is a drop in the bucket.

You know than when the media wants to push an issue, a cause, a group, a party or candidate, they give them air time all the time in the hope of “shaping” public opinion.

For example, chances are that if they gave you some air time to speak about direct democracy, most media today, on the left and the right, will try to convey to the audience that the idea is not practical, that it makes little sense for the country, that direct democracy is a scary idea, etc.

Nobody will tell you: “you know, direct democracy just makes me think that if Germany had a direct democracy, Hitler would have never happened because the German people would not have fallen for a demagogue when they say representative democracy was not working.”

If the German people could have voted to decide, they would not have voted for the extermination of the Jews and others. They would not have voted to invade France, Czekoslovakia, Poland or declare war to Russia, either.

It would not have happened because when the people are in control and know they are responsible for the fate of others and of themselves, they are far more prudent than the politicians, not just demagogues like Hitler, but also in representative democracies. For example, do you have any doubt that if the American people had to decide to go to war in Irak against Sadam, they would have said “NO”?

The people only would vote to go to war if the country is being attacked or strangled economically. The reason is obvious; it is likely they or their children will die.

So, it unlikely your host, eitor, etc., will be support direct democracy because direct democracy diminishes the power of the parties, the lobbies and the media but increases the power of ordinary voters.

As for printed media, it is basically the same as other traditional media, most of them are just as politicised.

Unfortunately, your issue is now as important as the media decides. The chances of you issue receiving air time or space in a newspaper, if it is critical of the major parties or proposes something that gives voters power over the parties and over the economic and political establishment, giving you enough air time or space in page to have an impact on voter during election and between electiuons, is almost zero.

No wonder in representative democracies they have lots of aggressive demonstrations even riots. I do not enter into if Black LIves Matter, Occupy Wall Street, the Yellow Jackets in France, the “Indignados” (furiously angry) in Spain and others are “right” or “wrong”, but they are positive proof politicians do not listen to them, and that they do not have the mechanisms to orgamize a binding referendum to let people decide if there should be an independent judicial investigation of the banks, of police departments, of the influence of the rich, of business and professional lobbies, of the media, of unions, etc., in the development of laws or policies, in elections, etc.

Diversity is in fashion, but not for ideas critical of the establishment of the Right or the Left.

Luckily, we have Internet now, that is why I use Internet. Internet helps but there are barriers there too.

In Internet it is possible to reach the public, but it is not easy. You might find somebody with a podcast who has millions of viewers and who finds your topic interesting, but most podcasters position themselves as progressive or conservative; in this respect you are back to the situation we have with traditional media.

You can set up a website, post videos, etc. With skill and luck you can create a large audience. But no matter how large your audience, you audience has no mechanism to force a popular vote, even less with results that would be binding on the issue and force the politiciamns to stop or to starte doing somthing.

In the Internet platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. It is clear they censor speech. They may do it with the best of interntions. They do it when they consider the ideas can mislead public opinion or are “dangerous”. In itself, tolabel ideas dangerous is tha same as saying “we do not trust the viewers, readers or listeners”.

Perhaps they do not trust the public because they believe the public is gullible, that the public lacks a clear idea of what is right or wrong. To me, besides being unfair to those censored, it not rational to belive so many citizens are incapable of telling right from wrong.

It is obvious, such platforms can deprive the users of their freedom to hear different opinions. They might do it with the best of intentions, but they censor. Fortunately, direct democracy does not fall into the group of censored issues. Still, no matter how many people watch or listen to your podcasts, they have no power to force a binding referendum on anything.

In short, if people can speak and write but the vast majority can not hear them or read them, how meaningful is that freedom? And, even if they are heard and read by thousands or millions, if those thousands or millions can not force a popular vote with binding results, what good does it do to have millions of followers? Having many followers influences elected politicians, but does not force them to do anything. In some cases, often another political party, challenges a law or an executive decision in court, but ordinary people lack the means to do that, thay might not even have legal standing.

This means that in representative democracies, once the election is over, it is not possible for many causes to be heard, even if most people support, or would support, your cause. Much less can the people do force the politicians to act.

If the people have no established mechanisms to stop the policies, laws and regulations politicians put in place, even if most of the people oppose what the politicians do, then the country is not behaving as a democracy. Democracy means “government by the people”. It is not “government by the people” if the people can not stop political decisions or tell the politicians what to do.

It is not “government by the people” either if the people, once the election is over, can not force the politicians to pass a new law concerning an issue the majority wants addressed.

In representative democracies, the people can not set in motion changes to the constitution and can not make te changes themselves either.

It is obvious then that, between elections, representative democracies are not democracies because they lack the formal mechanisms for the will of the people to prevail.

One of the strong points of a direct democracy is that between elections, any person, any group, even a small political party without elected representatives, any union, any association of environmentalists, literally anyone, can put before the people for the people to decide, any issue, stop any law or policy, force politicians to make laws or policies. In representative democracies, the people can not change the constitution either. At most, they can approve or reject the changes prepared by the politicians.

All anyone or any group has to do in a direct democracy, to force a vote on any issue, is collect a small number of signatures. Such number must be small enough so that not too many signatures are necessary. It can not be so small that a frivolous issue could be put to a formal vote; voting is expensive in time and money.

It requires time because citizens have to invest time discussing the issue because they know thay are responsible for the consequences of the decision, not the politicians. In a direct democracy is not like in a representative democracy where you “vote, forget and hope for the best”.

It is also costly because of all the people, media materials, debates, vote counting, etc., involved in a referendum.

In Switzerland, our only established direct democracy, about 0.5 to 1% is the number of eligible voters who must sign to have a referendum on any issue. For some issues, the people who want a referendum must collect 50 000 signatures (it represents 0.5 % of the population, but it is a higher percentage of voters) within 100 days. On other issues, they must collect 100000 signatures within 18 months.

But the process is not fast; it is not like the politicians do something and next day a referendum is held. Even if technically that became possible, it is obvious the voters need to be exposed to the many opinions for or against the proposed referendum. They need time to digest the implications because in a direct democracy, the voters can not blame the politicians like voters have to do in representative democracies because they do nothing else, other than protest.

This means that, not only a direct democracy is much more democratic than a representative democracy because the people really decide what government can or must do, and even change the constitution, it produces better and more solid decisions than a representative democracy.

It does because they debate the issues for a longer period and the voters hear more opinions from experts inside and outside government, for and against the proposed referendum.

There are other crucial advantages; voters do not have to worry about being elected at the next election. This means that in their decision does not enter: “if we pass this law, implement this policy, how will it affect the next election?, what will this business or professional lobby, this union, this rich donor will do?

Ordinary voters do not have to worry about being supported with the money, or the votes, politicians need to get elected.

Voters are less dependant on the media  because the referendum is amply discussed in many forums. I suppose, most media also want audience and in Switzerland, so far, it seems the media are not as partisan as in representative democracies. Perhaps because the system of direct democracy centers the discussion more on issues and less on “conservative-progressive” ideology, “Right-Left”. They want to reach a large audience which is less focused on ideology and more on the issue at hand. The media know that a partisan strategy, like we often see in the media of representative democracies, in direct democracy is a bad idea for the business.

Because they are directly responsible, voters in a direct democracy are not dominated by ideologies (that in representative democracies are almost like religions, in a direct democracy voters have to think harder abaout the consequences of their vote

Because people see growing problems with representative democracy, they propose improvements. Listen to them, butt their “improvements” change nothing of substance because they do not address the root weakness of representative democracy.

For example, some people speak of “deliberative democracy”, “participatory democracy”, “proportional representation” and other concepts to improve representative democracy. I believe they do improve representative democracy, but such improvements do nothing to address the root problem; the voters have no executive and legislative power over the people they elect.

They are like improvements to the gasoline engine; it will still burn hydrocarbons. To really address CO2 emissions, you have to go to a new engine, the electric “engine”; we keep the four wheels but what moves the car is radically new.

None of the proposed improvements addresses the key weakness of representative democracy; between elections the politicians hold all the executive and legislative power and the people have zero formal power. They can not stop the politicians from doing anything they want, nor they can they tell them what they must do on this or that issue and, just as important, at no time do people have the power to change the constitution by themselves, independently of the executive, the legislative of the judiciary.

In a direct democracy, the people are truly “sovereign” because “they posses the supreme political power”, not the politicians, nor the judges.

So, if you want democracy to continue once the election is over in your country, your state, your province, your region, your city, town or village, direct democracy is the answer.

Victor Lopez

 

 

The Swiss, again, show to Canadians and all others how it can be done, democratically, with no protest caravans

As you know, right now there is a huge caravan of trucks in Ottawa, the Canadian capital, because many truckers are upset at the Canadian government’s requirement that unvaccinated Canadian truckers to be tested AND quarantine after they return to Canada from driving in the US. American drivers do not have to do that.

I do not know if the truckers are angry because of the requirement by itself, or if they are angrier because American truckers do not have those requirements when they return home.

This is just another notorious example of the controversies many governments in democracies have created with their vaccine policies. In dictatorships, as we know, there are no controversies, we bless such countries with omniscient leaders who can do no wrong and therefore, only “fools” or “evil” people dare to protest.

There has been lots of confusion, which is not reduced by trying to silence or dismiss as lunatics those who disagree with government policies. Even in some social media has become acceptable to delete the account, or demand that it be deleted, of someone who questions the measures enacted by governments to deal with the virus.

I am vaccinated and believe in vaccines; the issue is how those who disagree are treated by governments, by most media, and perhaps even by most of the people who believe in vaccines. What I see and hear I dislike, but is just my opinion.

What is important is to see if direct democracy provides less controversial ways to deal with those measures.

Th intolerance of some pro-vaccine people has reached such madness that even demand medical doctors, who do not oppose vaccination but some of the control measures, should be silenced. This is absolute madness. How is the public going to form an opinion if they can not know different, even opposite opinions, to the prevailing ones?

I do not know if it is just ignorance or an irrational desire to see everything in absolute terms; true-false, good-bad, right-wrong. Too many people seem to mistake the opinion of scientists for science. An opinion is an opinion. Scientists often disagree because we can interpret the data in different ways.

In a free country, we have to listen to different opinions; to suppress opinions is to kill democracy. What freedom do we have if opinions are censored? What is then the difference between a dictatorship and a democracy? The only difference would be that in a democracy, you elect the dictator. I am not sure it is a radical improvement.

So the truckers are mad. Why are they mad?, basically because they do not accept the decision of the Canadian government, they disagree with the government; they feel the government is unfair, that it is imposing a decision without justification.

The truckers might be mad because they believe the measure is not medically justified. Perhaps they have listened to some of the medical experts banned from social media. Or perhaps they believe the measure is unfair and punishes them more that others, for example, their American counterparts.

Perhaps the government could have prevented the protest if it had invited representatives of the truckers and others to discuss the intended measures. It is likely the government could have learned something to make the requirements more palatable to the truckers. From the discussions, the truckers could have also learned the pressures on government. It is likely a compromise could have been reached and the current conflict avoided.

So, how can you reach a decision that is controversial and ensure that everybody complies without triggering a protest like the one the Canadian government faces? It is easy, yet difficult. The answer is: make the decision transparent and democratic.

The most democratic decision in representative democracies is when we vote to elect our representatives. What is even more democratic is when in a direct democracy, we vote in a binding referendum to decide an issue.

Canada would save itself the current trucker protest if it did what the Swiss do; let the people decide. After calm, informed discussions and debates, the voters go to the polls and decide.

One significant advantage of the people deciding issues, instead of the politicians, is that the decision is fully democratic. The truckers would have no credibility to protest against the measures if their fellow citizens had approved them. They would not organise any convoy either, or show at Trudeau’s door. They would look like fools; it is absurd to refuse to accept a decision made by majority of the people. It would also be foolish for the truckers to pressure Trudeau because in a direct democracy, the politicians can not overturn a decision by the people.

Sometimes, such as the current pandemic, there may be no time for the people to decide which are the measures they find reasonable. This means that, even in a direct democracy, government has to act quickly.

When that happens, how can the controversy, such as the one with the Canadian truckers, can be avoided? It is simple, give people the chance to organise a referendum on the validity of the measures adopted by the government.

When people know they can organise a referendum challenging the government measures, and the results of the referendum are mandatory, that government has no choice but to follow them (ordered by voters), that not even parliament or the highest court in the land can overturn the decision by the people, then the people can easily accept the emergency measures, as they know they can kill them if enough of their fellow citizens support what they propose.

If Canada had the Swiss system, instead of protesting, the truckers could have organized a national referendum.

This is exactly how the do it in Switzerland; the Swiss government passed several measures to control the damages the virus causes. Essentially, the Swiss government did what the Canadian one did, but via a significantly different process, because of Swiss direct democracy. Because the Swiss government knows the people can organise a referendum that could kill the measures, they normally negotiate with relevant parties until consensus is reached, but in this case perhaps there was no time. In such cases, a referendum is like a safety valve; those opposing the measures can persuade voters to kill the measures.

Perhaps more important is the fact that Swiss politicians of the 4-5 major parties, representing 70-75% of voters, long ago realised the best way to avoid people-initiated binding referendums, is to negotiate among themselves; if 70-75% of voters feel that a reasonable policy has been agreed to, it is unlikely anyone will challenge it.

Among the measures, the Swiss government passed is one requiring vaccination passports to access restaurants, etc.

But, perhaps the consultations were not thorough enough, perhaps there was no time. The result was that  many people in Switzerland disagreed with several of the measures. They set up a group with the aim of forcing a referendum on the measures the government enacted on September 2020 and on March 2021.

The organisers of the “protest” referendum collected the required 50 000 signatures within the required 100 days.

The referendum took place on November 29, 2021, 62% of the voters rejected the proposed rejection of the measures and sided with the government measures.

It is obvious many Swiss, truckers or not, disagreed with the measures; after all, 38% of them voted against them. But these people lost a fully democratic contest. They had time to explain their point of view. There were plenty of debates in the media, with co-workers, among family members. They heard the opinions of experts for and against the measures. Each voter received an information package to prepare for the referendum. In the package, the proponents of the referendum to kill the measures explained their position in their own words. In the same package, the government presented its arguments defending the measures. It was a fair contest.

Once the proponents of the referendum, and their supporters, saw most voters rejected their arguments, they had no other option but to accept the result. If they organised protests after having a fair hearing, they would look like fools and sore losers. Besides, their protest would have no effect on the measures because, how could the government back out of measures the voters, democratically, supported?

In this example, I believe it is clear why direct democracy is superior so representative democracy or any other system; it produces better thought out decisions because there is more open discussion than the usual hyper-partisan ones we see in representative democracies. Besides that, the decision made through a referendum has a democratic quality that no decision by politicians can have.

A referendum is therefore the most rational solution to important or controversial issues; it prevents conflict and produces better results and more acceptability.

Swiss style direct democracy can be scaled to smaller and larger countries, just like representative democracy has been successfully scaled.

Victor Lopez

Direct democracy; “Dictatorship of the majority”, give me a break!

Just in case you are not familiar with direct democracy, I will summarise it for you before I address the “dictatorship of the majority” criticism.

The easiest way to understand direct democracy is to use a simple example; your town or city.

With representative democracy, you elect the mayor and the town council. Once they are elected, all decisions are in their hands. They decide which street to repair, if to build a new public swimming pool and where, the local tax level, where houses, stores or factories can be built, and on and on.

In other words, all the local policy decisions, local laws and regulations are in the hands of the elected politicians. The only political right voters have is just vote to elect, not vote to decide any action or policy; they can not stop the politicians when they do something people disapprove of, nor can they tell politicians what to do. Between elections, citizens have zero power in a representative democracy. This means that between elections representative democracies are no democracies.

In the 1800s the Swiss decided representative democracy had a very important shortcoming; elected politicians had too much power. They decided to keep the elected politicians, but they introduced a peaceful but radical change, from then on the voters would have more power than the politicians. They did it after the politicians messed up another pandemic… Perhaps the people of other countries will now find inspiration to demand direct democracy.

Let me go back now to the critics or skeptics about direct democracy.  One of the criticism is: “direct democracy could become a dictatorship of the majority and oppress tha minority”. There is no evidence at all that will happen. We know it because of history, it never happened.

The  World knows of two proven examples of direct democracy; the democracies in the ancient Greek cities all over the Mediterranean is the first. As you know the Greeks invented democracy. To them, representative democracy would not be democracy, it would be just elected oligarchy or elected aristocracy, not democracy. 

It has been estimated that there were as many as 80 such democratic cities in Ancient Greece. The best known is Athens. Athens was the largest, approximately 100 000 people, and the best known because of all the information, archeology and other sciences have extracted from excavations, documents, etc.

None of the Greek democracies was a tyranny of the majority. The citizens of Athens were all Athenian men and women who were not slaves or foreign residents. Unfortunately, women citizens were not allowed to participate in politics. As you can expect, slaves could not either.

Nevertheless, the Greeks established the defining characteristic of democracy; that ordinary people would govern, not kings, emperors, oligarchs, dictators or priests.

Slavery and keeping women out of politics were two important  shortcomings but remember, slavery was the norm in most ancient cultures; Jews, Romans, Chinese, Moslems, the most advanced American cultures before Columbus and after him, and many other countries in the World practiced slavery until the 19th century in the West and the 20th in places like China, and the Moslem World. Even today, it is estimated that 30 million are slaves right now in various nations.

As for women, they gained the right to vote at about the same time as slavery was abolished.

But have no doubt; had Greek democracy, with its tolerance of free thinking, reason and analysis of everything, survived, the Greeks would have concluded that both, slavey and women not voting, was wrong. It would nave been addressed much sooner that was the case under Christianity because Christianity and other religions, are the opposite of free thinking: “this is the Truth, the rest is false or evil”.

In fact, some anciente Greeks posed some questions about the legitimacy of slavery.

As for Greek women, while they could not vote, many became important in poetry, leaders defending their cities, philosophers, physicians, astronomers, mathematicians, etc. No other ancient culture comes close to the Greeks in terms of so many important women in active roles and “men” roles. Sparta, another Greek city, although not a democracy, had practical equality between women and men.

More than 20 centuries after the Greeks, slavery, and women, and most men too!, were excluded from politics. The political emancipation of women in the modern World, and the abolition of slavery, are not the result of Christian ideas or the ideas of any other religion, but the result of the Renaissance which itself arose out of the awareness of the accomplisments of the Classical World, and the importance of the human body and mind, the lack of “original sins”, “expulsion of Paradise” and assorted stories that demean human nature. Those who studied Greece marvelled of its accomplishments; direct democracy, philosophy, arts, theatre, mathematics, astronomy, architecture, sculpture, the Olympics, non-absolute gods, rejection of dogma and absolute “truths” and other ideas much of the current World has not caught up with yet.

Direct democracy in Greece did not result in the majority dictating to the minority. Slavery and women’s absence from public life, was not something brought about by Greek democracy, it preceded it and continued long after democracy perished.

In the reakl world, in Greece and now in Switzerland, direct democracy works in and orderly manner, there are no mobs: the people decide calmly, rationally, considering many factors. Because of that, those  whose vote is in the minority,  accept the outcome because in a direct democracy, decisions are democractic, by fello voters, not by the elected elite. There were no mob decisions in Greek democracy and there are no mob decisions  in Switzerland.

Let us look and see if in Switzerland there is anything resembling the “tyranny of the majority”.

Nearly 63 % of the population of Switzerland is German-speaking, 23 % French-speaking, 8% Italian-speaking and 0.5% Romansh-speaking.

Do we hear of the French, Italian or Romansh-speakers, feeling oppressed in any way by the German-speaking majority? No.

Have you heard of separatist movements in Switzerland with the French, the Italian or the Romansh areas, wanting to separate from Switzerland?, No. Did yoiu ever hear of French, Italian or Romans languages and culture being in danger because of the prevalence or German? No.

Far from tyranny of the majority, in Switzerland, when the French-speaking population of the majority German-speaking Canton of Bern, decided they wanted to have their own French-speaking canton, the majority of the German-speakers of the Canton of Bern voted and agreed. The majority of the Swiss also ratified the decision. As  result, the new French-speaking Canton of Jura was born. So much for “tyranny of the majority”. Which other country you know that would allow such freedom to a minority? I do not know of any.

If you examine how Switzerland works, you quickly see that the minorities, even the tiny Romansh minority of 40 000 speakers, in a country of 8.5 million inhabitants survives without difficulty. You will also find surprising that Romansh, spoken by just 0.5% of the Swiss, is one of the four official languages of Switzerland.

You have not heard of the minority languages in Spain, France, the UK, etc., becoming official languages of the country. Have you heard of Spanish or Native American languages becoming official languages of the US, or Native Canadian languages of the Indians and Eskimoss becoming official languages of Canada, or minority languages in Germany, like Danish or Frisian?

It is obvious direct democracy is no “tyranny of the majority.” Tyranny is tyranny, dictatiships are dictatorships  and have nothing to do with direct democracy.

Direct democracy, because it automatically takes into account the priorities of the majority, has never become tyranny and will develop into dictatorship either; it is representative democracies that can, and has developed into dictatorship when they do not listen to the majority; Germany, Italy, Spain, Cuba, etc., are examples.

It happens because representative democracy often fails to take into account the concerns of the majority. And that is the reason representative democracy is in crisis in most countries now; immigration, vaccine passports,  using public money to rescue banks and other big business, big internet companies out of control, politics “infecting” practically all institutions, job losses, lack of job stability, wages falling behind, the rich becoming much richer, etc., are all realities undermining the confidence of voters in representative democracy. In some ways it is representative democracy that has turned into the tyranny of the minority over the majority, something that is contrary to the stability of society.

All the worst crimes against humanity were commited, and are being commited, by dictatorships and even by representative democracies who degenearted into dictatorships, or shaky representative democracies. But mostly by outright totalitarian regimes; absolute religious regimes, the Communist regimes of the USSR and China, tribal wars in non democratic nations, etc.

It is also important to note Ancient Greece never had the  religious wars we have seen the World over, and always in regimes who are not direct democracies.

In a direct democracy, voters are responsible for life in the country. They understand that oppression of other citizens will threaten everyone because oppressed people, often turn to violence and the control of such violence can not be done without weakening democracy for all.

Another aspect that I believe prevents direct democracy from evolving into tyranny of minonirities, is that when voters make the decisions, they not need “leaders with vision”, “charisma” and other characteristics that often turn such leaders into mass manipulators to get elected, or demagogues who seduce the powerless masses or push legislators to give them special powers, etc.

Direct democracy forces voters to grow into responsible voters, nothing further from “tiranny of the majority”. Do not fear direct democraccy if you are part of a minority, fear representative democracy degenerating into dictatorship, as it has happened.

No lame duck president, prime minister or chancellor in Switzerland, and it is better

No lame duck presidents in swiss
system, why?

First, what is a “lame duck” president, prime minister, chancellor, etc.?

This is the definition in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary:

“An elected official or group continuing to hold political office during the period between the election and the inauguration of a successor”.

In Wikipedia, they expand; “In politics, a lame duck or outgoing politician is an elected official whose successor has already been elected or will be soon. An outgoing politician is often seen as having less influence with other politicians due to their limited time left in office. Conversely, a lame duck is free to make decisions that exercise the standard powers with little fear of consequence, such as issuing executive orders, pardons, or other controversial edicts. Lame duck politicians result from term limits, planned retirement, or electoral losses, and are especially noticeable where political systems build in a delay between the announcement of results and the taking of office by election winners”.

So, lame ducks are not good because they lose influence on major issues, as others see the lame duck will not be around for much longer and therefore is now of little importance.

At the same time he or she can do some things, like in the case of the US president, to pardon supporters or friends in jail, always controversial.

In a direct democracy, at least in a Swiss-style direct democracy, the “lame duck syndrome” does not arise for several reasons. Other countries would do well to look into and adapt-adopt, the Swiss system of presidency.

In the Swiss system a group of 7 people, collectively, are the top executive of the country. But they do not come and go all at once and, normally, are re-elected to the post several times, this provides the continuity the “lame duck system” can not.

It is interesting each of the seven is not elected by the people but by both chambers of the Swiss Parliament.

This is not as democratic as if they were elected by the people. But in Switzerland does not matter much; in Switzerland they have direct democracy, which means voters have more power than the politicians, than both, parliament and the executive.

In Switzerland the voter vote to elect politicians and also vote to decide policies, issues, laws, even the constitution. They do that independently of the politicians, a remarkable and far more democratic system which, to top it all, delivers better decisions, and decisions readily accepted by those who disagree because they are real democratic decisions.

When the people have more power than the executive or the legislature can not do anything of importance if the voters are strongly against it; voters will gather the signatures and a popular binding referendum will be held; the results could kill the decision of the executive or the law.

The people can do the same with any law approved of proposed by parliament.

Going back to the Swiss executive members, they are not lame ducks; with relatively low power and the powers shared among the seven, when one of the seven retires or quits for another reason, the impact on the executive and the country is minimal. Others know that most of the executive stays on and continues; it does not lose influence.

Normally, the members of the Federal Council, which is the formal name of the executive, are re-elected for several terms, this means that the impact of a “lame duck” councillor is reduced further.

So, the Swiss system provides unparalleled stability and continuity.

The seven are not assigned official residencies either; they rent apartments if they are from outside Bern, the city where government sits. Bern is not the capital. Switzerland has no formal capital.

The lack of the almost royalty honours that presidents and prime ministers receive is totally inappropriate in a democracy; we are supposed to be citizens, the president or the prime minister should drop all the  “star” status.

The 7 members of the Swiss executive do not have the overblown status of presidents, prime ministers, etc., with fancy residences, motorcades, etc., like they do in representative democracies. This also ensures the members of the Swiss executive stay more in touch with ordinary people.

The Swiss have not one person as head of state, it is a shared responsibility of the 7; you could say the seven are the head of the state.

Another advantage of the Swiss system is that if one of the seven dies, the disruption is minor.

Collective leadership is not related to direct democracy. I fact it is not direct democracy, but is another example showing how the Swiss system reduces the important of politicians and eliminates the foolish, exaggerated, concept of “the leader”, “people with vision” and other “personality marketing tricks we see in representative democracies; no doubt a remnant of the exalted kings and emperors, who are not needed in a direct democracy.

And remember no lame duck executive, in Switzerland the ducks are just in ponds, not in power.

If James Madison had pursued one of his ideas, the US would be a direct democracy now, it is not too late for America to change the World again!

Most people know little about direct democracy; sometimes it seems there is a conspiracy of silence, and perhaps of criticism too, but it is clear to me; direct democracy is the next logical improvement for representative democracy.

It is crucial to look at the United States now because it is the most important representative democracy and because representative democracy is in crisis all over. If the US switches, the rest of representative democracies will follow, just like nations followed the US Constitution after the US was founded. Including the Swiss; the ones who now set the pace for direct democracy.

Today, representative democracy has problems. Even countries, like those in Scandinavia, Canada and others, who are  among the most stable, seem to be falling, like the US, into a state of increased polarisation and intolerance. I believe such developments are the inevitable result of representative democracy;  representative democracy gives politicians too much power.

One effect of so much power is that politicians fight bitterly to win; exaggerations, lies, demagoguery, airing of personal issues, practically everything is used to win by trashing rivals. Naturally, this causes polarisation of politicians, voters and the media. The result is that society submerges itself in a sea of many irrational emotions incompatible with democracy. Democracy needs reason, rational argument, respect.

Once in power, politicians in representative democracies can not resist using their excessive power to push their agendas, often without considering the will of the people on very important issues.

In representative democracies, the people can vote the current politicians out of office but they will end up with another set of politicians with as much power as those who preceded them.  In a representative democracy, no matter who governs, the people always lack power to make sure politicians govern in tune with the voters.

If American representative democracy continues deteriorating, in other representative democracies will be very difficult to stop the deterioration of their democracy too.

How will representative democracy’s deterioration will end? No one knows, but in the 30s Germany’s representative democracy deteriorated to the point Germans stopped believing in it; Hitler was the result. We can denounce Hitler as a monster, but it was the breaking down of  representative democracy that brought Hitler to power.

As you may know, most Americans already have little respect for their politicians in Washington.

Why the US did not become a direct democracy at the very beginning? Why the American Founding Fathers did not opt for direct democracy? They knew of direct democracy, but seems they felt ordinary people were not up to the task.

I do not know if it was because the American Founding Fathers were wealthy people, perhaps at heart, aristocrats. Somehow, they felt the people needed “leaders”, people to represent them; presumably, people formally “educated”, property owners, university graduates; people like the Founding Fathers themselves.

Although the American Founding Fathers did not establish a direct democracy, what they did was a tremendous improvement over rule by autocratic kings, dictators, hereditary aristocrats,  “noble” families or “holy” men. But it was not a significant improvement over the democracy the United Kingdom already had at that time.

Americans rebelled against the UK because the democratically elected parliament in Westminster raised their taxes, not because they felt oppressed by the British king. They did not rebel for lack of freedom either; they rebelled because they objected to taxation without representation.

The American Founding Fathers did not really believe in “government by the people”. In the US, like in the UK, the people do not govern. Perhaps the Founding fathers believed, like the politicians in the UK, the average American voter of the time was not ready for direct democracy, or perhaps it was the Founding Fathers that they were not ready, or perhaps both.

But is very interesting one of the Fathers of the American Constitution, James Madison, who became the fourth President of the United States, considered by many as “The Father of the American Constitution”, considered direct democracy, but decided against it.

It is surprising he decided against it. He felt “factions” were the problem, but he wrote: “Factions they can dissolve if the public is given time and space to consider long-term interests rather than short-term gratification”. In other words, the people could be able to decide, no need for political leaders deciding for them.

To Madison, “factions” were “groups of people who have special interests that are in direct contrast to the rights of others.”

By “factions” Madison also meant “impetuous mobs.” Mob means: “a large crowd of people, especially one that is disorderly and intent on causing trouble or violence”.

After he wrote that under certain conditions the people could govern themselves, he could have thought: “what mechanisms can we put in place so that the people are given enough time and space to vote on issues taking into account their short term and long term interests”?, but he didn’t.

Perhaps he tried to, but could not think of such mechanism to achieve those goals, to make it possible for the people to directly decide, calmly, rationally, keeping in mind their short term and long term interests.

It is also interesting Madison ignored ancient Greek democracies, because they were able to establish the mechanisms Madison sought. It is interesting too, and surprising that today, Madison’s successors ignore Switzerland’s direct democracy and its proven and unmatched track record for over 150 years.

It is possible his mind, and the minds of the other Founding Fathers, were too set on the idea that people were capable of of voting to elect those who would decide for them, but not capable decide by themselves, policies and laws.

I do not know why they thought that way, because it seems to me more difficult to assess the skills and character of a candidate to president, particularly his or her skills to lead the country through a great variety of challenges in the present and also for the long term, than to decide concrete issues such as raising or lowering taxes for individuals and business, whether to have universal health care, the size of the national debt or of the government deficit, declaring war, signing commercial treaties, etc. An all that is precisely what Swiss voters do since the 1800s, whenever they decide the issue is important to them.

If Madison believed then elected representatives were more capable than ordinary voters of for the long term, observing current politicians, in the US and other representative democracies, soon he would have doubts and would push to have direct democracy, to give people the opportunity to govern or, at the very least, be able to control or stop then policies and laws the elected representatives make.

I believe ordinary voters can make sounder decisions for the short and long terms because they are free of the need to take into consideration election or re-election. They are freer of the pressure of the lobbies as well.

Madison, the other Funding Fathers, and all those who support representative democracy, seem to believe those elected posses qualities of character ordinary people do not posses. History does not show that, with the politicians in charge, representative democracy is progressively losing credibility because politicians often make bad decisions, and also decisions against the will of the voters, even of the voters who elected them.

Representative democracy  places politicians in a catch 22 situation; if they decide what is good for the long term of the country, the decision might be painful for voters in the short term; voters might decide to elect a rival politician who gives or promises them “candy” now.

Because representative democracy gives politicians too much power, too often they use power to give themselves even more power and privileges. They also use power to help those who support them, with money and other resources, to win elections.

So much power creates the systemic corruption of democracy we see, where the politicians often do not do what the people want. Not to mention the corruption related to money and influence.

It is time to bring to all representative democracies, direct democracy, the system that forces voters to grow up; to learn they are responsible for the life of the whole country, just like now they are responsible for their personal lives.

Once they assimilate this system of self responsibility, they know that sometimes they will have to prescribe themselves the bitter medications, like raising taxes or reducing the military budget, just two examples.

In a direct democracy, on all major issues, the people no longer blame the politicians because the people have the power to control them and to make sure they carry out the will of the people.

Politicians in representative democracies often are not able to do what the nation needs for fear of losing the next election. You see, in representative democracies, the implicit message to the people is: “Just vote for us and leave to us to look after your interests and the interests of the country”.

Quite logically, when the situation arises to give people bad news, such as raising taxes to pay for the deficit, the debt, pensions, etc., the politicians do not do that because the rival party often delivers the opposite message; “vote for us, we will reduce taxes, increase pensions, we are not like them, with us life will be wonderful”, etc. The end result is parties engage in electoral wars of beautiful promises and attacks to rivals, nothing about the “elephant in the room”. It is terrible for the long term, but by that time the current politicians have retired.

Judging from the political and economic management of Switzerland, compared to representative democracies, it is obvious the people make better decisions than the politicians, and the system does so in a more cooperative political environment. The system. by reducing the power of politicians, forces conservatives, progressives and others to cooperate. This drastically reduces division and polarisation.

I believe other countries can do what the Swiss do, perhaps even improve Swiss practices.

It is the time for American to execute Madison’s idea: “put in place mechanisms so that the people are given enough time and space to vote on issues taking into account their short term and long term interests”.

Bringing direct democracy to the US will revitalize all representative democracies; it would be another hugely positive contribution of America to humanity.

Direct democracy will also speed up the collapse of dictatorships. This is because the contrast between real government by the people and authoritarian-totalitarian government, is much stronger than the contrast between dictatorships and representative democracy.

All peoples want to control their destiny, it is as natural for them as for a person to control his or her life. Unfortunately, sometimes the peoples do not believe they are capable, that they need “leaders” to decide for them. Other times those in power do not let the people decide, or do all they can to discredit the idea that the people are able to decide.

The US is the most important representative democracy. That is why it is essential for the World Americans demand direct democracy at the national level now.

The Swiss found what the American Founding Fathers did so good they used the US Constitution to draft their own initial constitution. But in the 1800s, the Swiss added direct democracy to it.

They did it when they saw how their politicians mishandled another pandemic; are we now in a “cosmic coincidence” opportunity with the current pandemic?

The Swiss felt then it was time for the people to be in control. They kept representative democracy, but they inverted the power pyramid; the Swiss people have since the power to stop any policy or law drawn by the politicians. They can also instruct politicians to put in place the policies and laws the people want, including changes to the Constitution.

It is now the turn for Americans to look at the Swiss.

By the way, Swiss direct democracy, which they have in all levels of government, is quite different in crucial details from direct democracy as practised in some of the American states.

Victor Lopez

In Swiss-style direct democracy, it is not too important if the President or the Prime Minister dies. Read on to see why and how

xSome people say Biden is suffering some sort of mental deterioration. What others said about Trump left no room for deterioration…

If a president or prime minister becomes incapacitated, or dies, it is a big problem in representatives democracies because the power and decisions such persons sets them apart from other government members.

On top of that, or perhaps because of their exalted position, in most representative democracies, there is a kind of “cult of personality” around such persons. No wonder that, like entertainment stars, some seem to lose their heads and seem to believe they are special humans.

In the eyes of much of the public, they become persons with almost superhuman qualities. You only have to observe how members of the public show such awe when they are in the presence of presidents and prime ministers, perhaps submisivenness is the appropriate word, yet, they pay his or her salary like they do with most politicians!

During electoral campaigns, when they seek power, such people are mere candidates, just “politicians”, but when they reach power a metamorphosis takes place. It seems this transformation affects practically all those who become presidents or prime ministers.

This means that in representative democracies you have a serious crisis when such persons become physically or mentally incapacitated, or die, particularly if they die a sudden death for whatever cause.

Such situations create a “power vacuum”; it affects, normally negatively, local and domestic issues, ordinary people become very worried, so do business, the economy, the stock exchange, etc.

It is as if the “cult of personality” had convinced the public the president or prime minister was indispensable; they are not but the image developed around them makes many believe, including the person himself or herself, that they are.

While representative democracies have mechanisms to replace the president or prime minister if he or she becomes incapacitated, the substitutes lack their experience making decisions and the hipper exaltation of qualities many feel are necessary to lead the nation. They do not have the “special aura” the media and others create.

This “cult of personality” is not as deranged as the cult of personality we see in dictatorships of the Left and Right, or in absolute kingdoms or religious dictatorships.

The exaggerated exaltation of presidents and prime ministers has interesting effects; even those who oppose the person in power become so enraged for decisions presidents and prime ministers make, that their hateful reactions become confirmation of the special power of the president or prime minister.

In some cases the discapacitation, mental or physical, does not impede the persons to carry on with their duties, at least to some extent; now we have a person who is not fully capable but still has the same authority as if he or she was fully functional; it can be as bad or worse than full incapacitation, or even death.

Direct democracy, besides its many other virtues, provides insurance in such situations. As you might have guessed, I am referring to Swiss direct democracy.

In the Swiss system, all politicians are less important than in representative democracies because they have far less power. This includes the top positions in government. The power direct democracy conveys to citizens enables citizens to stop any major decision by the executive. The people can fairly quickly get a referendum under way. In such referendum, voters can stop the decision and can even tell the executive to do something they are not doing.

The Swiss people also have those powers over parliament. That is correct, Swiss voters have more power than the executive and the legislative, even if those bodies unanimously oppose the calling of a referendum or its results.

But the Swiss people have gone beyond giving themselves final authority over the executive, they decided it is best to have a collective executive. The Swiss have seven persons with equal power and responsibilities as the executive.

Every year each of the seven occupies the presidency of the executive, but he or she has no more power than any of the other six members. His only tangible power is to cast the decisive vote if there is a tie among the other six.

That person also has the responsibility of visiting the leaders of other countries and of welcoming them to Switzerland.

The decisions of the Swiss executive are also collective decisions, often unanimous. Unanimity is reached after long deliberation.

Once a decision is made, all seven members have to defend it in public, even if they do not agree with it, and even if the decision is contrary to the poisition of the party to which the member of the executive belongs.

Let me make an aside here; the Swiss executive is not directly elected by the people. The people elect the members of parliament and it is the parliament who selects the Swiss executive, known as The Federal Council. That is not as democratic as directly electing a president or prime minister, but it does not really matter; remember the Swiss people, every time they decide to do so,they can prevail over any decision, or law the executive and the legislature make. The people always sit in the driver’s seat, whenever they decide to sit there.

Furthermore, the seven members of the Swiss executive represent the 4-5 major parties in parliament. Together, they represent 70 to 80% of voters.

This means that the Swiss executive and the legislative are always in tune with the overwhelming majority of Swiss voters; the system of referendums leaves no other option.

This system forces the major parties on the Left, Right or Center, and the members in the executive who represent them, to come up with decisions and laws supporterd by the huge majority of voters. They do that because they know that if the don’t, the people can call a referendum and kill whatever decision or law the executive or the legislature develop.

The major parties have one or two members in the Swiss executive but smaller parties have none. Such parties, like any party even outside parliament or private citizens, do have the opportunity, and they use it, to collect the signatures necessary to call a referendum, this is not too difficult. If voters agree with the organisers of the referendum the decision kills any decision or law of the Swiss executive or parliament.

I hope you can see how the Swiss system of direct democracy and collective executive, in which most voters are represented, provides far smoother governance and, because of it, more stability than the mechanisms available in representative democracies.

Direct democracy has many more strengths, starting with the key one; it is real democracy. Let me suggest you inform yourself about Swiss direct democracy. I am specific about Swiss direct democracy because it is an irrefutable demonstration that direct democracy, the way the Swiss execute it, is superior and the logical next step for representative democracies.

Swiss style direc democracy has extra pillars for support and checks and balances that are impossible in representative democracies; direct people power, shared responsibility at the top and elimination of the bitter division representative democracy creates among politicians, their supporters and the media, which perhaps has had no choice but to become partisan to atract readers, listeners and viewers interested mainly in the reinforcement of their views.

It is easy to see how in the Swiss system is not very traumatic if one member of the Swiss executive becomes incapacitated or dies, his or her party will quickly appoint a replacement. One member of the Swiss executive represents only 1/7th of the executive, not traumatic at all for the country, practically everything will carry on fairly normally.

Finally, another important fact for those interested in business management illustrating the advantages of collective leadership; Toyota also practices collective leadership; it gives the company more diversity of points of view at the top, and also stability and continuity.

Although Toyota is not a democracy, it also involves all workers in the continuous iprovement of their work by giving them the authority to make decision within their area of responsibility.

It is those characteristics that enabled Toyota to become number one. Yes, it looks like Toyota is somewhat behind in battery-powered cars. But it is still early. Tesla is a great innovator but tlere is no collective management there; if something happens to Musk, Tesla does not have the continuity mechanisms Toyota has. I believe Toyota will catch up and surpass Tesla, just like it did with General motors and the rest, even the German brands. Of course, it is not impossible that Toyota will fail.

Victo Lopez

This is how Swiss direct democracy reallyworks; no reason why it will not work in your country!

Today, another example of how Swiss direct democracy works and how, in my opinion, hopefully in yours too, it is superior to representative democracy and it is logical evolution for democracy.

The post does not address non-democratic systems because they are an affront to human dignity; they are the worst possible systems and should not exist. Unfortunately, too many societies seem still unable, for now, to have democracy, even representative democracy. It would great, but a miracle, if a country governed by communists, fascists or religious totalitarians, were able to pole vault into direct democracy.

So, let us go to Switzerland’s direct democracy.

On Nov. 28, 2021, many popular referendums took place in Switzerland; some at the national level, some at the cantonal level (a Swiss canton is roughly comparable to a US State, a German state, a Canadian Province or a Spanish Autonomous Region, but generally much smaller and, surprisingly, with significantly more autonomy). It seems the Swiss really practise diversity in this regard to accommodate geographic, cultural and linguistic differences. Todo that they organise themselves in 26 cantons, for total population of 8.5 milliom.

Today I will refer to one of the votes that took place, specifically, one vote in the Canton of Zurich. The most populated canton with 1.5 million inhabitants.

In Zurich, you need to collect six thousand signatures of eligible voters to call a referendum. In other cantons the numbers are different to accommodate differences in population, but in percentage terms, they are roughly similar, but each canton sets its own referendum rules.

Anyone can collect the signatures to call a referendum on any issue that falls within the responsibilities of the Canton of Zurich. The residents of the municipalities of the canton can also call referendums, from the largest, the city of Zurich, to the smallest of a few dozen people, all practise direct democracy; the people decide issues, such a building a municipal pool, a library, etc. The number of signatures is proportionally smaller to reflect the population of the municipality.

If for a population of 1.5 million, such as the canton of Zurich we need 6000 signatures, 0,4% of the population, representing approximately 0.5% of eligible voters.

If we assume, roughly similar ratios, a city in the Canton of Zurich of, for example, 20 000 people, will require approximately 500 signatures to launch a referendum. In a small municipality, only a few sirgatures are required.

With each Swiss voter practising direct democracy, which voters are decisive in the running of the country (The Swiss Federation), each canton and each municipality, you can imagine that Swiss voters really feel they control what happens at all government levels.

Compare these figures with California, where the signatures of between 5 and 8% of the numbers of voters who participated in the previous election, are required. These figures are considerably higher than Zurich’s, although not as high as those numbers would seem to make them, because voter turnout is lower than the number of eligible voters.

This is a separate issue, but in Switzerland they do not have laws to control financing of referendum campaigns. In spite of that, they do not have the phenomenon we see in California’s referendum campaigns, general state campaigns and, above all, US Congressional or Presidential campaigns, where big money from various sources distorts democracy in a serious way.

Swiss voters, Zurich and municipality voters too, know they pay the taxes required to implement the local, cantonal and national decisions they make with their votes, in the US, most taxes are paid to the federal government. This means California voters do not feel as responsible as Zurich voters, because they aren’t, for the effects of their decisions in their pocket as much as the Swiss are. In Switzerland, most taxes are paid at the local and canton level, not the federal level.

Fossil fuels to be phased out in the Canton of Zurich,

6000 thousand signatures in Zurich, is all that was required to launch the referendum to decide the future of fossil fuels for heating systems.

63% of voters turned out supporting the measure to replace fossil fuels in heating systems with other energies. Notice that the politicians in Zurich could not have done that on their own without the approval of the people. Swiss voters, not just in Zurich, have the power to stop the politicians and to push the politicians on specific issues, even national issues, like defense, international treaties, etc.

Swiss cantons are responsible for universal health, education, most taxes, etc. This means the Swiss control their governments at all levels. It seems Swiss voters have decided: “we pay, we have the final say on any issue, not the elected politicians, we, the people decide to phase out fossil fuels, not the elected representatives”.

The Zurich house owner’s association campaigned against the law, so did the conservative party. Most Swiss do not own or live in houses, that can explain the results of the vote. But the vote was, unquestionably, a democratic vote. Much more democratic than in a representative democracy where powerful lobbies would have pressured the politicians not to listen, or to push for the switch because heat pump manufacturers, distributores and installers benefit. The pressure coming from the “donations” those groups make to the political campaigns of politicians and parties.

But issues of general interest should not be in the hands of specific groups when they pressure politians for reasons who do not consider the general interest.

But it is not a “dictatorship of the majority” vote; government will provide financial assistance to those who own houses. It has doubled the support already in place to encourage switching. Those who voted for the measure know the money to help house owners will come from their taxes too.

In a representative democracy, where politicins have much more power, the politicians can not resist also “buying” votes with measures geared to “improve the environmen” (and also get voters to support them at the next election, but not because the measures are good for the environment but because voters get “gifts” with their own money but with no say in the decision.

For example, right now in Canada, the federal government gives up to 5000 Canadian dollars to house owners who install heat pumps. The cost of such installation amounts to about 12 000 to 15 000 dollars. It is a substantial investment that many people can not afford, Precisely the people who most need to reduce their heating bills. They will continue to use oil gas and wood; I suppose wood burning was not an issue in the Zurich referendum because fireplaces are not allowed for heating.

With this decision, the people of the canton of Zurich will reduce CO2 emissions 40%.

Swiss direct democracy forces voters to focus on the real issue; reduce CO2 emissions, to vote responsibly and to own the consequences of their decisions, they can not blame the politicians. Voters make such decisions after informed debate.

In Canada, none of the parties directly involved in the decision have CO2 emisions as the central concern; most house owners do not think of CO2 when they know of the program, they think things like: “If we install heat pumps in the house we will reduce our heating bill by so much and the government will give use 5000 dollars”. Perhaps they will also think: “the house will be easier to sell”. Others may pass because they do not have the money or they say: “it is not worth it, in a few years we will probably move, we will never get our money back”. In short, the program has a lot of political marketing in it; very different from what happened in Zurich.

Politicians think: “Incentives to improve energy efficiency sound good, if people get money for heat pumps they will like it. We hope they remember at election time”. If not many people install heat pumps, and the effect no CO2 emissions is negligible,and people have no idea of how important will be the benefits, nor where the reduction will happen, but who can deny it is “an initiative to help Canadians and the environment”. In the end it does not matter much in how many tons of CO2 emissions will be reduced.

As for the heat pump manufacturers, distributors and installers, no need to say that their major concern is to sell and install heat pumps, it is their business!

In other cantons, such as Bern, with one million inhabitants, voters rejected a similar referendum earlier; this another of the beauties of direct democracy, Swiss style; it accommodates differences among cantons and municipalities.

Direct democracy also forces voters to grow up. In representative democracies voters elect politicians who decide for them. The system frees voters of responsibility and, in a way, reduces them to children whose vote is bought with nice promises and gifts. Voters in representative democracies never feel directly responsible for anything; it is always “the politicians!”.

It is time to grow up, to give politicians the role of doing what the people want, not to “lead” the people. The people know how to lead themselves very well once the have to decide issues and are responsible for the consequences. Swiss voters have been demonstrating for more than 150 years.

In representative democracy, the problem is not the politicians or the parties or the voters, although most voters like to think so, the problem is the system of representative democracy. It is the system, that makes voters not responsible, and politicians irresponsible, because the system forces them to have winning elections as the main goal, not the good of the community or the country. The system of representative democracy forces politicians to consider every issue with short term electoral concerns in mind. On the other hand, direct democracy forces voters to think long terms; voters are not runnig for reelection, they think of the environment on its merits, of the future of their children and the country.

It is not that politicians are bad, selfish, greedy or stupid, politicians are ordinary people but the system forces them to behave badly very often.

So, study the Swiss system and bring direct democracy to your country at to all levels of government.

Victor Lopez