What will the Swiss people decide on Nov. 29th? What will your people decide?

The power of the Swiss people, under Swiss direct democracy, is not like the power of the people in representative democracies.

You would not know this if you just read the constitutions of representative democracies; in one form or another they all state that “the people have given themselves the constitution”, “that the will of the people shall prevail”, etc.

By reading that, you would think that the people of those democracies also decide key issues, but it is not like that at all.

Practically in all representative democracies, be they “presidential” or “parliamentarian”, the executive, the elected representatives, or the judiciary, make all decisions; the people are spectators. Only at election time, the people make one decision that counts.

The result is the progressive disenchantment with the governments of representative democracies; more and more ordinary people feel  “the government does not listen to us”.

In the better-governed representative democracies, such as the Scandinavians, the government traditionally practices wide and deep consultation with representatives of many groups, but it does that because it wants to, because the politicians have the good sense to do that, not because by law they have to.

But even then, there is no system for the government to do precisely what the majority of the population wants, because the people do not vote and decide

Even in Scandinavian countries, the governments seem to be slipping in governance, for example, Sweden.

In Sweden, government decisions on immigration have polarized the country. They polarized the country because there has not been sufficiently open, rational discussion of the issue, followed by a binding popular referendum. If there had been, the losers would be much more likely to accept the result; polarization would then not arise, at least not to the same degree.

Massive migration is supported by many Swedes and opposed by many other Swedes. I am not discussing if mass migration is right or wrong, good or bad. I am interested in having a system where there is public, open, peaceful discussion of the issues and, afterwards, the people, the majority of voters, decide what to do.

Switzerland is the only country whose constitution “puts its money where its mouth is”. The rest of us live in lands where “words are not facts”. The Swiss system is not perfect but shows the way.

Because of the power of the Swiss people, in two days, on November 29, 2020 they will decide the fate of a proposal to make Swiss companies legally responsible in Switzerland if they violate human rights or environmental laws in their operations abroad, just like they are in their operations in Switzerland. The proposal will make the companies also responsible if their local suppliers abroad violate human rights or environmental laws.

The results of the referendum will become the law. There is nothing that the legislators, the executive or the judiciary will be able to do to stop it. Why should the politicians in your country decide things like that, and not the people?

Perhaps this explains why 80% of the Swiss still trust their government. This is up 17% since 2007. It is the democracy with the highest level of trust, and the only one where it is has risen.

Perhaps the system that empowers the Swiss people to really control their elected representatives generates trust. Why should the Swiss not trust representatives who respect the will of the people? This is a major plus for direct democracy.

Yes, authoritarian and totalitarian regimes may show higher figures of trust but we all know such regimes can not be trusted, on anything.

So, let us stay tuned and see what the Swiss decide on November 29th. It will be also interesting to see what the Swiss government does.

Do you think you and your fellow citizens should have the right to do what Swiss voters do? If you think so, do something to make it happen in your country. For example, start to talk about it to others.

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