Did you know in a direct democracy, there is more freedom to decide than in the representative democracy you live in now?

In a direct democracy voter have more freedom because they have more choice; they vote to elect a politician, like voters do in representative “democracies”  but they also vote to decide issues and, just as important, they have the freedom to define the issues they want to vote on.

In representative democracies you do not have that; once you vote, that’s it, the politicians (and the media and lobbies define the issues), and the politicians decide what to do. The voter can do nothing until the next election. His or her whole life is in the hands of the politicians. That is no good at all.

In representative democracy voters are free to not vote too. This means they have the freedom to decide they do not exist, some freedom!

But they do not even have that if they live in places like Australia, Belgium and over 20 other democracies.

The politicians in the countries making voting mandatory should ask themselves: what are we doing wrong?, why so many people may not want to vote?

They should set up a project to figure the problem out, and make changes to increase voter involvement, instead of treating voters who do not want to vote as a bunch of irresponsible idiots to be herded into the voting booth.

In Switzerland, there is one canton, Schaffhausen, where voting is mandatory; in all other cantons and at the federal level, voting is voluntary. Schaffhausen does not enforce that ridiculous law. I believe the fine is something like 3 US dollars, a joke! Perhaps the people of Schaffhausen are just joking; their way of laughing at such laws.

Schaffhausen means, literally, “sheep houses”, perhaps they are not joking…

By the way, contrary to what some who dislike direct democracy say, in Switzerland voter participation is higher than in any representative democracy, except perhaps those who punish people if they do not vote.

Some critics of the Swiss system say; “but voter turnout in Switzerland is not very high”.

Voter turn out for parliamentary elections and for referendums in Switzerland is around 48 to 50% of eligible voters.,but can go as high as 75% and as low as 30% depending on the issues.

The critics of Swiss direct democracy do not consider Swiss voters vote on many issues at the local, cantonal and federal levels many times each year. Over one year, 80% of Swiss voters vote in elections, referendums and initiatives.

It is obvious the Swiss vote a lot more than those of any other nation; they vote several times per year each year, year after year. In other countries, voters only vote once every several years.

Swiss voters also decide many issues every year; you can not compare voter involvement in Switzerland with voter involvement in any other country.

This is why I laugh when I see The Economist’s rankings of quality of democracy; it places Switzerland behind 11 representative “democracies” in democratic quality. It is another “sheep house” joke!

A Swiss voter many not vote on issues of no concern to him or her, or perhaps feels it is better if voters familiar with issue, or more concerned, vote.

Voter participation in federal elections in Switzerland is a few points below 50%. But we must also keep in mind the election of representatives in Switzerland is far less important than in representative democracies because direct democracy make such elections less important; it is not critical what the politicians want to do because the people have the last word on everything.

Politicians in Switzerland are far less powerful than politicians in a representative democracy. Naturally, this makes their election less important.

In a representative democracy, voters have the freedom vote for party and candidate, but it is not enough; democracy is rule by the people;.

In a representative democracy the people do not rule, the people elect those who rule. In a direct democracy, voters are free to elect politicians, but they also have the even more important freedom to decide issues.

In representative democracies, the voters can not go against whatever the politicians they elected decide to do. All they can do is get mad, demonstrate, riot, etc., but they have no mechanism to prevail over the politicians. In a direct democracy, they can and do so.

Don’t you think it is time that what happens in Switzerland should come to your country too? I do.

Victor Lopez

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