This is direct democracy; it is the democratic empowerment and assertiveness of the majority, nothing of “dictatorship of the majority” and similar foolishness

So that you will have a feel how a well-run real democracy works at the national level of government, at lower levels is similar. I have translated from French into English the information package each potential voter receives in Switzerland.

Sometimes I do not translate literally. This I do when I judge it is necessary for clarity in English.

If you want to examine the original documents, the Swiss government sends to each potential voter, you can download the mobile app Voteinfo.

As you can will see, the packaged is a serious and fair document, no “hot air” promises, no demagogical attacks to those with different positions.

The document is serious because Swiss voters know they will make a decision and that they will be responsible for the consequences. This is very different from representative democracies, where the voter’s only decision is for whom to vote.

In representative “democracies” the people can not decide on what issues, laws, policies, treaties or changes to the constitution of the country, they will vote. In a representative democracy, the people can blame the politicians for everything, in Switzerland they can’t, because the people can stop anything the politicians have done or want to do. If the voters do not do that, it is because not enough people are interested, but they have the power to do it. In representative democracies, all the people can do is “vote and hope”. If they are very angry, they can take to the streets, as we see in the US, UK, France, Germany, etc.

The information package the Swiss voters receive, is also fair because it includes the views of the most significant parties, suggesting to the voters to vote “yes” or “no”; the government, the parliament and the committee of ordinary citizens who collected the signatures to make the referendum possible.

In the case of the Sept. 26 referendum on the popular initiative to reduce taxes on salaries and increase them on capital, this is what the information package states:

Summary

Context

Currently, all incomes from salaries, other incomes and incomes from capital (for example, interest, dividends, incomes from rents) are in principle applied to the total income. Taxes on income help to mitigate the inequalities in the distribution of revenues in the population. In this way, the people with high incomes pay more, proportionally, than the people with low incomes. Besides taxes, other instruments allow for redistribution of income. This is done mainly by social benefits, like income assistance and social assistance.

The popular initiative

The authors of the initiative (which basically is the group of citizens who organised the collation of signatures. In this case they are the youth branch of the Socialist Party, but other times is just a group of unaffiliated citizens. This is one strength of direct democracy; people vote on issues based on the facts as they see them, not so much along ideological lines) are of the opinion that the current redistribution is insufficient and not fair. They demand that the revenues of capital be taxed more when they are high. To calculate the tax, the portions of the revenue of capital surpassing a certain amount will be taxed  at one time and a half; each franc (or dollar, or pound, etc.) will be taxed as if it was 1.5 francs.

If the initiative receives the support of voters, parliament will define the amounts to which the 1.5 times criteria will be applied. The revenues thus generated will be applied to a reduction of of the taxes paid by persons with middle and low incomes or to social assistance measures.

The question that we present to you:

“Do you accept the popular initiative to lighten the taxes on salaries and tax capital more equitably?

Recommendation of the Swiss Federal Government and of Parliament (both chambers):

“No”

The Federal Government and Parliament are of the opinion that the initiative will weaken the Swiss economy and reduce the incentive to save, that it will harm employment and prosperity. In comparison with other nations, incomes in Switzerland are distributed in a balanced manner, and capital already pays heavy taxes.

Recommendation of the committee who proposes the initiative:

“Yes”

The committee is of the opinion that the initiative will create more equitable taxes for 99% of the population. Currently, incomes from capital receive privileged treatment in several ways. The rich speculate with money and benefit.  This is money that does not go to the people that work, and is missing from the real economy.

Note: Both the government and the committee who gathered the signatures include references to support their positions.

Tomorrow I will translate the documents that the committee also includes in the package to support their position.

It does not take much to imagine that the voters in Canada, UK, Germany, France, the US, Northern Europe, and even less stable representative democracies, can assimilate similar information and vote as responsibly as the Swiss historically do.

Victor Lopez

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