In Swiss-style direct democracy, it is not too important if the President or the Prime Minister dies. Read on to see why and how

xSome people say Biden is suffering some sort of mental deterioration. What others said about Trump left no room for deterioration…

If a president or prime minister becomes incapacitated, or dies, it is a big problem in representatives democracies because the power and decisions such persons sets them apart from other government members.

On top of that, or perhaps because of their exalted position, in most representative democracies, there is a kind of “cult of personality” around such persons. No wonder that, like entertainment stars, some seem to lose their heads and seem to believe they are special humans.

In the eyes of much of the public, they become persons with almost superhuman qualities. You only have to observe how members of the public show such awe when they are in the presence of presidents and prime ministers, perhaps submisivenness is the appropriate word, yet, they pay his or her salary like they do with most politicians!

During electoral campaigns, when they seek power, such people are mere candidates, just “politicians”, but when they reach power a metamorphosis takes place. It seems this transformation affects practically all those who become presidents or prime ministers.

This means that in representative democracies you have a serious crisis when such persons become physically or mentally incapacitated, or die, particularly if they die a sudden death for whatever cause.

Such situations create a “power vacuum”; it affects, normally negatively, local and domestic issues, ordinary people become very worried, so do business, the economy, the stock exchange, etc.

It is as if the “cult of personality” had convinced the public the president or prime minister was indispensable; they are not but the image developed around them makes many believe, including the person himself or herself, that they are.

While representative democracies have mechanisms to replace the president or prime minister if he or she becomes incapacitated, the substitutes lack their experience making decisions and the hipper exaltation of qualities many feel are necessary to lead the nation. They do not have the “special aura” the media and others create.

This “cult of personality” is not as deranged as the cult of personality we see in dictatorships of the Left and Right, or in absolute kingdoms or religious dictatorships.

The exaggerated exaltation of presidents and prime ministers has interesting effects; even those who oppose the person in power become so enraged for decisions presidents and prime ministers make, that their hateful reactions become confirmation of the special power of the president or prime minister.

In some cases the discapacitation, mental or physical, does not impede the persons to carry on with their duties, at least to some extent; now we have a person who is not fully capable but still has the same authority as if he or she was fully functional; it can be as bad or worse than full incapacitation, or even death.

Direct democracy, besides its many other virtues, provides insurance in such situations. As you might have guessed, I am referring to Swiss direct democracy.

In the Swiss system, all politicians are less important than in representative democracies because they have far less power. This includes the top positions in government. The power direct democracy conveys to citizens enables citizens to stop any major decision by the executive. The people can fairly quickly get a referendum under way. In such referendum, voters can stop the decision and can even tell the executive to do something they are not doing.

The Swiss people also have those powers over parliament. That is correct, Swiss voters have more power than the executive and the legislative, even if those bodies unanimously oppose the calling of a referendum or its results.

But the Swiss people have gone beyond giving themselves final authority over the executive, they decided it is best to have a collective executive. The Swiss have seven persons with equal power and responsibilities as the executive.

Every year each of the seven occupies the presidency of the executive, but he or she has no more power than any of the other six members. His only tangible power is to cast the decisive vote if there is a tie among the other six.

That person also has the responsibility of visiting the leaders of other countries and of welcoming them to Switzerland.

The decisions of the Swiss executive are also collective decisions, often unanimous. Unanimity is reached after long deliberation.

Once a decision is made, all seven members have to defend it in public, even if they do not agree with it, and even if the decision is contrary to the poisition of the party to which the member of the executive belongs.

Let me make an aside here; the Swiss executive is not directly elected by the people. The people elect the members of parliament and it is the parliament who selects the Swiss executive, known as The Federal Council. That is not as democratic as directly electing a president or prime minister, but it does not really matter; remember the Swiss people, every time they decide to do so,they can prevail over any decision, or law the executive and the legislature make. The people always sit in the driver’s seat, whenever they decide to sit there.

Furthermore, the seven members of the Swiss executive represent the 4-5 major parties in parliament. Together, they represent 70 to 80% of voters.

This means that the Swiss executive and the legislative are always in tune with the overwhelming majority of Swiss voters; the system of referendums leaves no other option.

This system forces the major parties on the Left, Right or Center, and the members in the executive who represent them, to come up with decisions and laws supporterd by the huge majority of voters. They do that because they know that if the don’t, the people can call a referendum and kill whatever decision or law the executive or the legislature develop.

The major parties have one or two members in the Swiss executive but smaller parties have none. Such parties, like any party even outside parliament or private citizens, do have the opportunity, and they use it, to collect the signatures necessary to call a referendum, this is not too difficult. If voters agree with the organisers of the referendum the decision kills any decision or law of the Swiss executive or parliament.

I hope you can see how the Swiss system of direct democracy and collective executive, in which most voters are represented, provides far smoother governance and, because of it, more stability than the mechanisms available in representative democracies.

Direct democracy has many more strengths, starting with the key one; it is real democracy. Let me suggest you inform yourself about Swiss direct democracy. I am specific about Swiss direct democracy because it is an irrefutable demonstration that direct democracy, the way the Swiss execute it, is superior and the logical next step for representative democracies.

Swiss style direc democracy has extra pillars for support and checks and balances that are impossible in representative democracies; direct people power, shared responsibility at the top and elimination of the bitter division representative democracy creates among politicians, their supporters and the media, which perhaps has had no choice but to become partisan to atract readers, listeners and viewers interested mainly in the reinforcement of their views.

It is easy to see how in the Swiss system is not very traumatic if one member of the Swiss executive becomes incapacitated or dies, his or her party will quickly appoint a replacement. One member of the Swiss executive represents only 1/7th of the executive, not traumatic at all for the country, practically everything will carry on fairly normally.

Finally, another important fact for those interested in business management illustrating the advantages of collective leadership; Toyota also practices collective leadership; it gives the company more diversity of points of view at the top, and also stability and continuity.

Although Toyota is not a democracy, it also involves all workers in the continuous iprovement of their work by giving them the authority to make decision within their area of responsibility.

It is those characteristics that enabled Toyota to become number one. Yes, it looks like Toyota is somewhat behind in battery-powered cars. But it is still early. Tesla is a great innovator but tlere is no collective management there; if something happens to Musk, Tesla does not have the continuity mechanisms Toyota has. I believe Toyota will catch up and surpass Tesla, just like it did with General motors and the rest, even the German brands. Of course, it is not impossible that Toyota will fail.

Victo Lopez

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