No lame duck president, prime minister or chancellor in Switzerland, and it is better

No lame duck presidents in swiss
system, why?

First, what is a “lame duck” president, prime minister, chancellor, etc.?

This is the definition in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary:

“An elected official or group continuing to hold political office during the period between the election and the inauguration of a successor”.

In Wikipedia, they expand; “In politics, a lame duck or outgoing politician is an elected official whose successor has already been elected or will be soon. An outgoing politician is often seen as having less influence with other politicians due to their limited time left in office. Conversely, a lame duck is free to make decisions that exercise the standard powers with little fear of consequence, such as issuing executive orders, pardons, or other controversial edicts. Lame duck politicians result from term limits, planned retirement, or electoral losses, and are especially noticeable where political systems build in a delay between the announcement of results and the taking of office by election winners”.

So, lame ducks are not good because they lose influence on major issues, as others see the lame duck will not be around for much longer and therefore is now of little importance.

At the same time he or she can do some things, like in the case of the US president, to pardon supporters or friends in jail, always controversial.

In a direct democracy, at least in a Swiss-style direct democracy, the “lame duck syndrome” does not arise for several reasons. Other countries would do well to look into and adapt-adopt, the Swiss system of presidency.

In the Swiss system a group of 7 people, collectively, are the top executive of the country. But they do not come and go all at once and, normally, are re-elected to the post several times, this provides the continuity the “lame duck system” can not.

It is interesting each of the seven is not elected by the people but by both chambers of the Swiss Parliament.

This is not as democratic as if they were elected by the people. But in Switzerland does not matter much; in Switzerland they have direct democracy, which means voters have more power than the politicians, than both, parliament and the executive.

In Switzerland the voter vote to elect politicians and also vote to decide policies, issues, laws, even the constitution. They do that independently of the politicians, a remarkable and far more democratic system which, to top it all, delivers better decisions, and decisions readily accepted by those who disagree because they are real democratic decisions.

When the people have more power than the executive or the legislature can not do anything of importance if the voters are strongly against it; voters will gather the signatures and a popular binding referendum will be held; the results could kill the decision of the executive or the law.

The people can do the same with any law approved of proposed by parliament.

Going back to the Swiss executive members, they are not lame ducks; with relatively low power and the powers shared among the seven, when one of the seven retires or quits for another reason, the impact on the executive and the country is minimal. Others know that most of the executive stays on and continues; it does not lose influence.

Normally, the members of the Federal Council, which is the formal name of the executive, are re-elected for several terms, this means that the impact of a “lame duck” councillor is reduced further.

So, the Swiss system provides unparalleled stability and continuity.

The seven are not assigned official residencies either; they rent apartments if they are from outside Bern, the city where government sits. Bern is not the capital. Switzerland has no formal capital.

The lack of the almost royalty honours that presidents and prime ministers receive is totally inappropriate in a democracy; we are supposed to be citizens, the president or the prime minister should drop all the  “star” status.

The 7 members of the Swiss executive do not have the overblown status of presidents, prime ministers, etc., with fancy residences, motorcades, etc., like they do in representative democracies. This also ensures the members of the Swiss executive stay more in touch with ordinary people.

The Swiss have not one person as head of state, it is a shared responsibility of the 7; you could say the seven are the head of the state.

Another advantage of the Swiss system is that if one of the seven dies, the disruption is minor.

Collective leadership is not related to direct democracy. I fact it is not direct democracy, but is another example showing how the Swiss system reduces the important of politicians and eliminates the foolish, exaggerated, concept of “the leader”, “people with vision” and other “personality marketing tricks we see in representative democracies; no doubt a remnant of the exalted kings and emperors, who are not needed in a direct democracy.

And remember no lame duck executive, in Switzerland the ducks are just in ponds, not in power.

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