No matter how many pirouettes EU politicians and Swiss politicians perform in Brussel’s “circus”, there is no way to square the circle; a direct democracy differs greatly from the collection of representative democracies who created the EU to prevent another war between the Germans and the French.
The Germans and the French created the European Union because the French are scared of the Germans, and the Germans are scared of themselves. I do not know if the French should fear the Germans or if the Germans should fear themselves, but the reality is that the EU was created to prevent another war. The motive is noble, the means, the EU, has clay feet because it does not come from the people.
The EU was not created by the German and the French people by referendum, it was created by the politicians. This does not mean it was a bad idea, but it is an idea that has become reality without the people voting and approving it.
The EU is another example of the fundamental weakness of representative democracy; the elected politicians can change the destiny of the nation without the explicit backing and approval of the people they “represent”.
If elected politicians really felt they represent the people, they would do nothing, of the magnitude of creating the EU, without the explicit backing of the peoples of Europe. But they did it because the culture of representative democracy rests on the idea that “the people are fine to elect their representatives, but the representatives are better qualified than the people to decide what is good for the people, after all, the elected representatives have more formal education than the average voter, political parties and political leaders have deep knowledge of the country and of what is good for the country, they have teams of experts that assist them, etc.”
On the surface, all that may seem to make sense, but it is wrong; the ability to decide what is good for a country has little to do with formal education, it is common sense. Common sense is the most important form of intelligence because it is the intelligence that considers the innumerable factors at play in the functioning of the country. Formal education is useful but common sense if far more important.
This is why the late W F Buckley said: “I would rather be governed by the first 2000 names in the telephone directory than by the Harvard University faculty.”
A properly run direct, or semi direct, democracy, such as Switzerland, has been showing for almost 2 centuries, in some ways even more, that direct democracy provides the best governance. No representative democracy in the World is better governed than Switzerland.
Just in case someone misinterprets what I say about governance; non-democracies of any stripe; personal dictatorships, party dictatorships, religious dictatorships, are intrinsically inhuman governments that should not exist, but the people of those countries will have to fix that, just like the English, the Americans, the French and others got rid of absolute rulers.
Switzerland is governed better than representative democracies because, with direct democracy, the Swiss government can not stray from what the people want, and also because direct democracy benefits from the collective intelligence and common sense of the Swiss people. Direct democracy forces Swiss citizens to think hard about issues, because they decide them. This makes them directly responsible for the fate of the country.
The Swiss can not say; “roads are bad because the politicians spend the money in weapons”, “education is bad because the unions do this or that”, “taxes are too high (or two low) because of the politicians”, the country is polarized because of the politicians”, the government overspends because of the politicians”, “we went to war in x place because of the politicians”, etc., etc.
The hard truth is that Swiss voters are responsible for all of that,and more.
Swiss voters are adults who decide if this or that agreement with the EU is good for the country. The voters of EU countries do not decide anything, their politicians treat them as the means to reach power, not really to represent them.
In the EU, authorities are used to “dirigisme”; “us, the elites know what is good for the people better than the people who elect us”; they don not say so openly, but their actions show what they believe.
While the British, or the English, do not have direct democracy, the British people and the elected politicians are somewhat more aware than the peoples of other EU countries, that the people, not the elites decide the destiny of the country just like that. British politicians, also know, better than the politicians of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, etc., that they represent the people of their riding, and must vote in tune with the people. It is not as good as direct democracy but is what made David Cameron decide the people had to decide EU membership in the terms the EU wanted.
Brexit is the decision of the British people, that is what democracy is about. Unfortunately for the British, it is up to the government to decide what issue to put to referendum.
In the UK, some also said that because the Parliament is “sovereign”, it could ignore the results of the referendum. What sort of democracy is one where the politicians do not have to do what the people explicitly voted and decided the politicians must do.
In Switzerland it is not like that at all; the citizens themselves decide what issues should go to referendum, and government must implement the results of referendums.
The current low in relations between Switzerland and the EU is the result of the inevitable clash between a country where government has no choice but do what the people want it to do, and the countries, and the EU itself, where politicians can do anything they want, as long as they have a majority government of get the approval of the majority of politicians.
The hard truth is that EU politicians, except at election time, they can do anything without approval of the people, Swiss politicians can not do that.
Brussels, the EU and its members do not want the Swiss to make decisions the EU does not like.
While EU governments submit to EU politicians, because they are all in the same “representative democracy wavelength”, Swiss politicians can not do that, even if they wanted to. The reason is obvious; Swiss politicians are directly controlled by Swiss voters through people started and people-decided referendums.
For example, if the Swiss decide they want to control how many people enter the country, the EU says; “no, this is how what you have to accept”. Things like that are causing friction between the EU and the Swiss people.
It is inevitable; either the Swiss abandon direct democracy, or the EU abandons representative democracy, and introduces direct democracy.
Direct democracy has growing acceptance among the peoples of the EU; this is why the EU has accepted the idea of “people initiatives” by the people, but such initiatives have no teeth.
The EU needs binding, people-initiated referendums, but in Brussels they still believe “we know better than the people what is good for them”; it totally undemocratic.
But the idea of this fake democracy is so rooted that countries like Norway, Denmark, UK and others, where the people do not have the power to decide key issues, are ranked by an organisation, that I will not name, but that you will easily identify, as better democracies than Switzerland; it is a sad joke.
Not only the lack of direct democracy in the EU is a problem for Switzerland; the EU will break up if it continues as out of tune with the people as it shows daily.