It is logical that direct democracy does not need full-time politicians, and that is good. In a direct democracy, the citizens make the most important decisions. This means there is no need for politicians to work full time.
In a direct democracy, the politicians become more like civil servants of the people; they execute the will of the people. Sometimes they do that because the people leave them no choice, other times it is because they are in tune with the people, and they decide in tune with the people.
From previous blogs, you may remember politicians in direct democracy are in tune with the will of the voters because, overall, the system of direct democracy leaves them no choice.
When people make the key decisions, politicians do not have to make them; they need not work as hard, there is no need for politicians to work full time. Neither do they need large office staff to inform them, prepare papers, speeches, interviews, debates, and on and on; all that is less important when the people are the decision-makers.
Not only parliamentarians are less important in a direct democracy, the president, the prime minister, the ministers are also less important too and they need less staff.
In a direct democracy, the politicians have less to do because they have less power, as simple as that.
As you know, Switzerland is a direct democracy. It is probable that if Swiss politicians could decide, they would prefer to have more power to do more things for the good of the town, the canton (state or province), and the country.
If they had the chance, Swiss politicians would prefer to have more to do, they would need to work full-time, just like politicians do in your country now.
Swiss politicians have assimilated direct democracy, and most prefer to be part-time politicians. As many of them say, “working part-time in politics, having also real jobs, keeps us connected to ordinary Swiss citizens”. But the desire for more power always lurks. We know that because Swiss history itself proves it.
When direct democracy “came” to Switzerland, when the citizens pressured and pressured the political class until they go it, Swiss politicians did not want the change, they liked representative democracy.
Another event in Swiss history confirms politicians like representative democracy more than direct democracy; during WW II the Swiss Parliament granted the executive the power to govern by decree. This also suspended direct democracy; no longer could the Swiss people hold referendums to reject laws, etc.
The politicians liked the suspension of direct people’s power. They liked it so much they did not want to go back to representative democracy. The Swiss people had to insist and insist until the politicians relented.
It is obvious politicians, not just in Switzerland, enjoy having more power. More power requires more work. More work means working full-time in politics.
Because direct democracy requires less effort by politicians, in Switzerland, even in the national parliament, most politicians work part-time and hold also normal jobs. At the canton (state or provincial) level, and at the local level the proportion is even higher.
All of the above is logical because Swiss politicians have less to do at all levels of government.
Part-time politics has other many important advantages for the nation.
For example, the Swiss politician does not depend on his or her political job to earn a living, as much as full-time politicians do in the representative democracies of Germany, France, Italy, the UK, the US, etc. This means Swiss politicians are less attached to their political jobs. If they are less attached, it means they can leave them more easily, this helps renovation in parliament and the executive and prevents entrenchment.
If the Swiss politician depends less on his political job to make a living, it also means he or she is less dependent on big donors to finance the campaigns he or she needs to win and stay in politics.
Being a part-time politician, who also holds a job in the actual world, also keeps the Swiss politician more in contact with the lives of the ordinary citizens who elected him or her.
Another important advantage of part-time representatives is that it helps prevent the rise of the “political class”. You know, those entrenched politicians who, not only are they full-time politicians, they are so decade after decade because many know how to get re-elected decade after decade.
Someone said: “power corrupts”. This means the less power politicians have the less corruption there will be among them. This is another good reason to have a direct democracy.
If you think direct democracy is the way to improve the representative democracy your country has now, do not forget that one advantage is part-time politicians.
But to get direct democracy, wherever you are, you will have to press and press and press for it to happen, just like the Swiss did. You will also have to stay vigilant, like they did, not to lose direct democracy.