From the horse’s mouth; a splendid book about direct democracy!

The Swiss Embassy in Ottawa sent me this essential book. It is essential if you want to know direct democracy. It is also essential to explain to others how direct democracy really works in the country with the most experience with direct democracy.

Since the 1800s, the Swiss practice direct democracy at all government levels; the local, the cantonal, and the federal level. No other country comes close to Switzerland in the number of years, or in the breadth and depth, practicing democracy.

It is also important to know that if we do not have direct democracy at all levels; we do not really have direct democracy. Direct democracy is about the people having the final say on any policy or law the politicians at any level propose.

Voter responsibility can not develop well, especially if the country does not have direct democracy at the level of government in which politicians have the most power.

In most representative democracies, it is the national or federal government, the one with the most power. This means if there is no direct democracy at the national level, then there is no direct democracy.

This problem is very clear in the US state of California, and also in other US states, where they have some elements of direct democracy.

Many observers in California and the US complain; “direct democracy is not working in California”.

Of course, representative democracy is not working either because it is not democracy; this is why so many people are unhappy with representative democracy, and the number keeps growing. In the US, after the mess of the last presidential election, the distrust must have gone through the roof.

Regardless of what really happened with voting, when half the voters in the US believe the election was stolen, there is no way representative democracy will last.

When people say direct democracy is not working in California, the real problem is that California does not have is enough direct democracy, that is why it is not working.

To make matters worse, in California, the results of a popular referendum, no matter how clear the decision by the people, can be overturned by the courts; by the California Supreme Court and also by the US Supreme Court, and it has happened. What sort of government by the people is that?

This means that even at the state and local level, where many Californians believe they have direct democracy, they don’t have it.

They don’t, because the people of California do not have the last word, at any government level. If the people do not have the last word there is no direct democracy, no matter how many propositions and referendums take place in California, or anywhere else, every year.

This is why we should all read the book the Swiss Embassy in Ottawa sent me; “GUIDEBOOK TO DIRECT DEMOCRACY” written by Bruno Kaufmann, Rolf Büchi and Nadja Braun. It has been published by the Initiative & Referendum Institute Europe.

The book is available in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Korean, Finnish, and Chinese. Yes, in Chinese too, China-Taiwan is in fact taking big steps towards putting in practice the Swiss model of direct democracy.

That Taiwan is adopting direct democracy can huge implications, for you know who…

I believe the book can now be downloaded for free from this site

This is the table of contents of the book:

No fair and decent globalization without direct democracy. By Doris Leuthard, President of the Swiss Confederation.

Initiatives & Referendums. Making democracy more truly representative.

The year of decisions. How a citizen deals with six elections and 30 referendums within ten months.

Citizens centre stage in politics. When the people put their collective foot on the accelerator.

Back to the future. The story of a democratic revolution at the heart of Europe.

As centralized as necessary, as decentralized as possible. On modern federalism.

The land of the contented losers. Direct democracy reveals where in society the shoe pinches.

Jura: democracy, not nationalism. How the Jura was able to make itself independent without violence.

The myth of the incompetent citizen. Direct-democratic rights have an effect on those who use these rights.

Out loud. Why complete strangers suddenly start talking to each other in public.

Added-value voting. A system which promotes growth strengthens society–and makes people happier.

Design determines the quality. Instructions for a citizen-friendly democracy.

The limits of direct democracy. The popular vote on banning minarets and lessons to learn.

The world of direct democracy. Modern direct democracy goes transnational.


Fact sheets 1– 30

World Survey: The Global Participation Challenge–with special features on the European Citizens Initiatives and the Americas

Glossary of direct-democracy terms

The Initiative & Referendum Institute Europe



The book will help you understand how direct democracy really can be made to work in your country, too.

No longer will you need to rely on articles and comments from “experts” who do not live in a direct democracy. Such “experts” write “articulate” speculations, without having first-hand knowledge.

Most of those “experts” are not fond of direct democracy. They like to pontificate about “democracy”, but when it comes to really bring about democracy, direct democracy, real democracy, they get cold feet.  Most of them do not really trust ordinary citizens; they do not trust their intelligence and character. They don’t because, at heart, they are elitists; they “talk the democratic game”, but they are not democrats.

Make others aware of this excellent book; a sort of “Swiss knife for direct democracy”.

Victor Lopez

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