Getting down to business; introduction to territorial direct democracy, and also the flawed Economist’s Democracy Index and the OECD’s PISA rankings of educational systems.

I said in my last blog direct democracy measures will only take root in stable representative democracies. I also said unstable democracies do not yet have the political culture to become direct democracies, but there could be exceptions.

As for no-democratic countries, their political cultures are still alien to democracy, and more so to direct democracy. Often, most of the people in of those countries do not appear to believe in democracy. But I have no doubt that, like the Western Europeans did,  they will develop the necessary values and skills to realise and execute democracy because it is the most humane, civilised, fair system ever devised by humans, and direct democracy is even more so.

It is too bad that since Greek democracy died over 2000 years ago, even the Europeans, the people closest to the Ancient Greeks, mere only able to resuscitate democracy in the 18th century (not fully even now, not even the Swiss). The rise of Christian-Jewish beliefs in the West, and the World, did little for democracy…

Let me take Canada as the first example of a country with a stable representative democracy, and how it could organise itself to add direct democracy measures and institutions and reap the “collateral benefits” of having them

This subject, adapting the Swiss mixed system of direct and representative democracy to other countries, will extend for several posts.

I use Canada to illustrate, how a stable representative democracy, can add direct democracy institutions to be more democratic, even more stable and more efficient, bringing to its people a higher standard of living, better educational system, better universal health system, more trust in government, more political and social stability, more civic engagement, better control of the lobbies who by-pass voters, etc.

First, I will give some details about Canada to help visualise how Canada, and perhaps your own country, would look if it adopted or adapted the model of territorial organisation of Switzerland.

In other posts I wrote about the direct democracy institutions, in the coming posts I will write about the territorial organisation that favours direct democracy and why they do.

Canadians reading the post may already know some, or much, of the information I will use about their country, on the other hand, they may be interested in how Canada could look under direct democracy.

I believe Switzerland’s territorial organisation, together with direct democracy institutions, are the root cause of Switzerland’s success, unmatched by any other country. This is why want to bring them up.

Canada has a huge extension; 10 million square kilometres; 3.9 million square miles, and a population of 38 million. This means many of its 10 provinces and territories are very large in extension, and population too.

Canada is organised Canada as a representative democracy federation of ten provinces and three territories. I will round up many figures to facilitate visualisation.

Ontario, 1 million square kilometres., 15 million people.

Quebec, 1,4 million sq. km., 8.6 million people.

British Columbia, 1 million sq. km., 5.2 million people.

Alberta, 650 000 sq. km., 4.5 million people.

Saskatchewan, 600 000 sq. km., 1,2 million people.

Manitoba, 550 000 sq. km., 1.4 million people.

Newfoundland and Labrador, 400 000 sq. km., 500 000 people.

New Brunswick, 71 000 sq. km., 780 000 people.

Nova Scotia, 53 000 sq. km., 1 million people.

Prince Edward Island, 6 000 sq. km., 160 000 people.

The three territories are:

The Northwest Territories, 1,2 million sq. km., 42 000 people.

Yukon, 500 000 sq. km.,  42 000 people.

Nunavut, 2 million sq. km.,  and a population of 40 000.

The major administrative difference between provinces and territories is the degree of autonomy, the provinces have more than the territories, their size and populations.

Just compare; Switzerland, 41,285 sq. km., (15,940 sq mi) and 8.5 million inhabitants. In extension, Switzerland is smaller than the second smallest Canadian province, Nova Scotia but in population it would be the second of third Canadian province.

Yet, Switzerland found, and demonstrates everyday, that the division of th  country into 26 cantons and giving each of them great autonomy, giving each great control over its own affairs, and also great say in national affairs, in both cases, more than the Canadian provinces, and has worked wonderfully for them. Canada, because of its extension has a far bigger need for further subdivision and for direct democracy institutions.

Within the cantons, the municipalities in Switzerland also have great independence in many political, economic and social matters; they can even leave a canton and join another adjacent one, or create a new canton, and they have done both.

I believe is due to direct democracy; Switzerland, with almost no natural resources is, overall, the number one country in the World, and certainly the most democratic, never mind the wrong rankings of The Economist’s “Democracy Index”.

Switzerland could not be the overall be, first country in the World if it did not have also the best educational system overall. With respect to education, we have to ignore another ranking, the OECD’s PISA rankings of educational systems; it places Switzerland as number 30 in the World. This ranking is even more ridiculous than the onne about democratic quality.

By the way, both rankings place Canada ahead of Switzerland; absurd. Canada is one of the best countries in the World but it is certainly behind Switzerland by almost any fact in the ground related to democracy, politics, economics, efficiency, technology, quality of life, health, education, etc.

In the exercise of bringing direct democracy to representative democracy I will be learning a great deal more about the uniqueness of each province, territory, state, district, autonomous regions, municipalities, institutions, etc., of several representative democracies, and about Switzerland too.

Victor Lopez

Leave a Reply