I never thought direct democracy and youth employment could be related, but perhaps they are; Switzerland, the only direct democracy the World has at the local, cantonal (state or province in federal countries) and national level, the lowest youth unemployment rate in the World.
Switzerland has lower youth unemployment rates than any other country, not just among democracies, but also all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes; those who claim total economic and political control of the population by the state is good for everything.
The figures come from this site.
It is interesting that the country where citizens have more political and economic rights than anywhere else in the World, again shows better management than the rest.
I only list democracies because, even if totalitarian societies had lower unemployment rates than Switzerland, which they don’t, losing human dignity is too high a price to pay.
So, there you have it. Even the next best countries; Japan, Germany and South Korea have approximately 30%, 80% and 254% higher youth unemployment rates than Switzerland.
We can attribute the figures for Japan and South Korea to “cultural differences”, but what about Germany ? Another European country sharing language and much culture with the more than 60% Swiss Germans.
For some reason, Switzerland is more efficient than Germany, and not just for youth employment. Switzerland’s merit is even more remarkable because almost 40% of the Swiss are French or Italian speakers. While both are European cultures, they are different between themselves and also from the Swiss Germans. This shows a multicultural society can be a high performance one.
How does Switzerland do it?
My suspicion is that Switzerland’s low youth unemployment rate has something to do with the common-sense, responsible approach Swiss-Germans, Swiss-French, Swiss-Italians and Swiss-Romansh have to issues.
The Swiss say that direct democracy fosters the development of more responsible citizens. This explanation makes sense; we all know that most people in any country behave responsibly when they are responsible for the effects of their actions.
Direct democracy makes the Swiss citizen responsible for the effects of the results of referendums. In a country where the citizens decide, some people would expect that “populist policies” (of the right and the left) would drive referendums. Things like; “free healthcare for all”, “free education”, free this and free that, but is not like that, it is the opposite.
Others even say that direct democracy can easily turn into “the tyranny of the majority”, presumably incited by demagogues.
Swiss voters do not go for any that. They further from falling into that than any representative democracy.
One powerful reason for their high sense of responsibility is that they know they have to handle the effects of what they vote in referendums. Just like homebuyers in any country behave responsibly when it comes to paying their mortgages.
But another more interesting reason explaining why there are no demagogical promises, by the Left or the Right in Switzerland, could be that Swiss politicians do not have the power to make the grandiose promises that politicians in representative democracies make.
In representative democracies, citizens are only responsible at voting time, the rest of the time the voters have no power, the elected politicians have all the power, therefore, the voters are not responsible and do not feel responsible for what happens to their country.
When a person has no power to decide, how can she or he feel responsible for whatever happens in his town, state, province or country?
But in Switzerland, when it comes to youth unemployment, the voters are responsible too. They are because they have the power to act. They have the power to bring about referendums to decide on education, on employment policies, as they have on everything else.
Swiss voters know they are responsible because they have the power to force the government; the executive, and the legislative, to do what is necessary for youth unemployment. They can also force the executive and the legislative to stop doing what they are doing, or to stop others.
Low youth unemployment is just another symptom of responsible management of the country.
Switzerland is not so different culturally from the countries around it, but the Swiss struck gold when the citizens of Zurich pushed for direct democracy, and got it, after a cholera epidemic killed 481 people by October 1967. From Zurich, direct democracy spread to the rest of Switzerland, not unlike the virus did, and the current virus is doing.
Perhaps the cholera was a blessing in disguise for the Swiss.
Do we not have enough dead by the current virus in our countries to demand direct democracy too?
Direct democracy is not just about having citizens with more rights and more power, it is about that because it produces better social, political, and economic policies.
Low youth unemployment is another reason to foster the development of voter self-responsibility by bringing to our countries direct democracy.