In a direct democracy, individuals and small groups are able to put their proposals to a popular vote

In no representative democracy is that possible. In Switzerland’s direct democracy it happens all the time.

For example, there is a group in Switzerland;  “The Group for a Switzerland without and Army”. It was set up by 100 Swiss young pacifist men and women. It now has 25 000 members.

They created it in the town of Olten, in the Swiss canton of Solthurn, in September 12th, 1982. Olten is a town of 17 000 people.

This group uses the tools of direct democracy to directly influence Swiss politics.

They can do that because in a direct democracy, you do not have to rely on a political party to push an issue, the people can directly go to the people and the people decide. They can do that even against the wishes of the executive and the legislative, and the courts stay out of it, how about that? Nothing like that is possible in the representative democracy you live in now.

In 1986 the group gathered the 100 000 signatures required to put one issue important to them to a national referendum.

What they presented to the people was a proposal; “For a Switzerland Without an Army and an Overall Peaceful Political State”. The referendum took place on November 26, 1989.

Many Swiss laughed at the proposal; they were convinced it made no sense, that voters overwhelmingly would vote it down. I do not know if the politicians laughed at it too. If they did, they all stopped laughing when they saw the results of the referendum, because the proposal received the support of 36% of the voters.

Many ordinary Swiss and the politicians were shocked; they never imagined that over one-third of Swiss voters wanted to abolish the army.

Naturally, with only 36% support, the proposal was not accepted. Nothing changed legally, but it shook other voters, the politicians, the military, etc. It was a healthy shake-up; it showed how those running a country can get out of touch with huge segments of the population. It also showed how citizens can be out of touch with fellow citizens.

If the elected representatives, and ordinary citizens, can get so out of touch with other citizens in Switzerland, over something as important as the Army, in spite of the constant people-initiated referendums on all sort of issues, you can imagine how out of touch politicians are in representative democracies.

I believe armies are necessary, but that is not the point. The point is that in a direct democracy, even small groups can put their ideas on the democracy test. There are other groups like this one in Switzerland.

Because of direct democracy, in Switzerland, left wing groups, centrist groups, right wing groups, and groups interested in any issue, can go straight to the people and have the people decide; “government by the people”.

On the contrary, in a representative democracy, you have to get the politicians to support your ideas, you can not go straight to the people for an executive decision; it is very different.

Democracy is supposed to be; “government by the people”, not “government by the representatives of the people”.

The Ancient Greeks invented direct democracy; they did not invent representative democracy. To them, representative democracy would be more like an elected oligarchy, it would not be a democracy, because it is not.

In a direct democracy the people make the key decisions at the national level, the state-province-canton level, and at the local level. Even small groups, minorities, etc., can put issues that concern them in the national, cantonal or local agenda.

They do not have to resort to demonstrations, riots or political violence; all they have to do is get a small number of their fellow Swiss to sign their proposal, and voila!, the whole people decide!

Let us get going and bring Direct Democracy to our countries.

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