The beauty of direct democracy; Members of Parliament are the main lobbyists and…, nobody cares !

Let us make a comparison; which country regulates lobbies more?; the United States or Switzerland?

The answer is, the United States. The United States has extensive legal requirements on lobbies. Th intention is to make sure lobbies do not have an excessive influence on American legislators.

In Switzerland, there is no legal control on lobbying. It is well known Swiss MPs themselves are the major lobbyists; they listen to interest groups representing business, unions, non-government organisations and, if they agree with their presentations, they defend their positions in parliament.

The Swiss system seeks consensus, this means politicians listen to all interest groups.

But Swiss politicians, and the interest groups who lobby them, also know that the power of Swiss politicians is very limited, much more limited than in the US.

This is because the Swiss system, wisely, gives the people the power to make the final decision on any law or regulation the politicians want to pass. It is truly a Sword of Damocles; the politicians, the interest groups know that if the people believe a law, a regulation, a policy approved by Swiss parliamentarians goes against the common good, the people quickly can organise a referendum. In the referendum the people to decide if they approve or reject what the politicians want to do, and the politicians must obey the decision of the people.

In Switzerland, only 1% of the voters have to sign the demand for a referendum. Once they do, the government has no choice, it must organise the referendum. The Swiss government can not organise referendums, only the people can.

It is also important to insist; the results of the referendum are binding; the government has to implement them.

This reduces lobbying in Switzerland to making sure all points of view are taken into account, so that Parliament can make a balanced decision. the balanced decision considers the interests of the lobby groups but, above all, the interests of ordinary citizens because Swiss politicians know the public will act and decide quickly, unlike the US, where voters can only get mad, scream, demonstrate, but have no direct power to reverse or stop what the politicians decide.

The US system, just like the system in all representative democracy is not democracy at all. How can it be if the people do not have the power to decide specific issues?

Keep in mind also that, because of the power of Swiss politicians is lower, in Switzerland it is not as important as in the US, who wins the election. It is not important because the people have the power to make sure that what prevails is the will of the people, not the will of the politicians or lobbies.

Unlike US politicians, Swiss politicians have much less power. In the US, once the election is over, the elected politicians have all the power to pass laws, etc., and the people can do nothing to stop them. All they can do is remember when the next election comes around. Unfortunately, the next election often is years away; voters forget, other issues come up, etc.

Because they have far less power, Swiss politicians are far less corrupt than US politicians. A UK politician, Lord Acton, said; “power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The more power the politicians have, the more corrupt they are. If you are American and want less corruption, you can not do better than demand direct democracy. If you are not American and want less corruption, you have to do the same.

Switzerland could also be less corrupt if it reduces the power of politicians even more, or does away with elected politicians and parties and switches to full direct democracy, Ancient Athens style. It is hard to believe; 2800 hundred years later, nobody in the World has full direct democracy.

US politicians are more corrupt also because they need vast amounts of money to run political campaigns. To do that, they need the money of lobbies. In Switzerland, politicians are less important because they have less power and this creates less competition to get elected.

The real problem in the US and other representative democracies are not the politicians and the lobbies; the real problem is that US politicians have too much power, and the people have very little. The real root problem is not even that, it is us, the citizens, who have not woken up to direct democracy.

It is up to you to do something.

Victor Lopez

 

 

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