Some of the things that make direct democracy the logical improvement of representative democracy

The crucial one is that direct democracy meets the key criteria of democracy; government BY the people, period. No needed to add “government FOR the people, WITH the people or OF the people; government BY the people is enough, it automatically includes the rest.

The phrase “…that government of the people, by the people, for the people…” pronounced by Abraham Lincoln, and others before him, is redundant, it does not add anything.

Unfortunately, it does not point to the most important fact; that neither the US, nor any other representative “democracy”, of the republican or parliamentarian sort, are “government by the people”, they are “government by the elected politicians”, often “for the elected politicians”, and the lobbies and people with the money to finance the election campaigns of politicians, with the obvious intent of obtaining benefits in return.

In other words, representative democracy is no democracy; it is a great advance over rule by kings, priest, party or personal dictatorships, but it is not democracy, it is elected aristocracy, and as aristocrats, the elected decide and behave. They can not help themselves; they have the power to do so.

But direct democracy or just democracy or real democracy, has many other benefits.

To show them, I will refer to a real direct democracy at work; the Swiss one, because fprmore than 150 years it has proven it works. Sadly is the only one in the World with a proven track record at the national level, although Taiwan, bless them! is following the Swiss.

Taiwan has special merit because it has been able to transition, without war, from dictatorship to representative democracy to direct democracy in two generations, an amazing accomplishment. It also shows Chinese culture is fit for democracy, that it does not need iron fist dictators. Let us hope the regime in Beijing is also able to evolve like Taiwan.

Let me clarify one thing; while Switzerland is not formally a 100% democracy (direct democracy) because voters do not decide everything, it has the provisions that empower voters to decide anything they consider important enough for them to decide.

This means Swiss voters kill or endorse laws, policies and treaties carried out by politicians. For example, Swiss voters just voted to back up the policies of the government on the “Chinese virus” (I will say Chinese virus as long people use “Spanish flu” and “Black plague). They decided to back them up, but could have killed them.

Swiss voters can also tell the elected executive and parliament to put in place new laws and policies on specific issues. They can reject or support laws approved by the elected politicians, before they go into effect.

Swiss voters can also make changes to the constitution.

In Switzeerland, only voters can initiate referendums but, sometimes certain issues must, by law, be decided by referendum.

For example, Brexit would only be possible in the UK, if the uK adopted the Swiss system, if voters set in motion the referendum process. Mr. Cameron would not have been able to call the Brexit referendum, neither could the Parliament, nor could Parliament or the highest court in the UK, override or nullify the results of a referendum.

If the UK had the Swiss system, the people who disagree with the result of the Brexit referendum would also be able to impulse another referendum once they thought the opinion of the public had changed, either on its own accord or because of their campaigning.

This is the pragmatic beauty of the Swiss system; automatically and gradually adjusts the laws, treaties, policies, regulations and the constitution itself to the evolving will of the people.

But there is more; under the Swiss system a referendum can be set in motion by any individual or group of individuals, they do not have to be a union, a women’s association, a political party, an employers association, a professional association, etc., although those organisations can do so. Even political parties without representation in parliament can set a referendum in motion.

Government can not call referendums in Switzerland, only the people or private organisations can. Some referendums have to be held because they are mandated by law.

The results of all this is that any minority has much more power in Switzerland than the majority has in countries with representative democracies.

In Switzerland, a minuscule group might identify an issue they believe most Swiss would agree to change. It could be gay marriage, banning oil burning appliances to reduce contamination, change immigration laws, change the constitution, practically anything. All they have to do is collect the 50 000 or 100 000 signatures o eligible voters. This is not difficult to do if the issue has some traction.

The organiser of the referendum also have ample time to collect the signatures. In Switzerland, the people do not complain that it is diffuclt to take issues to a referendum because of “too many signatures” or “two little time”. Anyhow, if that was the case, you guess it, enough people would support changing the law with another referendum.

Politicians, parliament, can also propose changes to the constitution, but they too must be approved in a national referendum.

Once the proponents of a referendums collect the signatures, they hand over to the politicians their proposal for the referendum and the signatures. Then, the politicians might just do what the proponents want, without going to a referendum, or they can make a counter proposal telling the proponents of the referendum what they will do to make the referendum unnecessary.

It the people who collected the signatures accept the counter proposal of the politicians, then there is no referendum, if they reject it then there must be a referendum. The result of the referendum is always binding on the politicians. The Swiss do not have consultative referendums, plebiscites or any of the shenanigans they have in some representative “democracies”, and that keep decision making power in the hands of the politicians and away from the hands of the people.

You might think, but if the 50 000 or 100 000 signatures empower the organizers to negociate with the politicians such important changes, is it fair they would have such power with only 50 000 or 1000 signatures backing them? It is not a problem because others could soon organize another referendum on that issue. But referendums do not happen in Switzerland every weekend, they take place four times per year and take usually more than one year to organise and celebrate, giving people voters plenty of time to know the issues.

I believe it is obvious the Swiss system is superior to representative democracy because it empowers all voters, even small minorities, to actually decide and prevail over the politicians. That is real empowerment, not the cheap demagoguery about having more women or blacks, etc., in politics, in the executive suite, etc. It is absurd to say we empower women because a few women are now executives, while 99% of women, and men, and blacks, etc., continue powerless in the running of the country.

Cheers!

Victor Lopez

Direct democracy is what makes sense for civilised countries, representative democracy is obsolete

The French Revolution was the culmination of the rebellion of the masses against the Church, the divine kings and the aristoctats. It was supposed to bring democracy back, but it di not. It was a good advance, but it did not bring democra y back.

Initially, the French Revolution was set up as a Greek styke democracy, the only one we knew. That meant a direct democracy,a democracy where the people directly decide policies and laws.

But something happened in the French Revolution; somehow, they were unable to make direct democracy work and “settled” (with a lot of bllod shed) for “representative democracy”.

This is an expression that to the Ancient Greek democrats would be an oxymoron. As already French Jacobin Deputy Pierre-François-Joseph Robert stated in early 1793, “There is no democracy with national representation,” he opined, “and those who wish to adapt all the principles of democratic government to a representative government are either imbeciles who disrupt without knowing it, or rogues who knowingly disrupt in the hope of not losing the fruits of anarchy.”

There you have it, representative democracy is not democracy. To the Ancient Greeks, our representative democracies would be “elected aristocracies”. What that wise French deputy thought of representative “democracy” you just saw it.

What sense does it make to have a few hundred elected representatives make all decisions for the rest of us just because we elected them? Does election make them more competent? Do they get elected because they have shown they are competent governing? Do they have ample knowledge of all the issues they face in which they have to develop policies, laws, treaties, etc., in fields as varies and complex as education, technology, science, crime, economy, industry, farming, health, energy, etc.? No, they do not, we all know politicians can not be experts.

So, they do not have special expertise but they make the decisions for us. In their teams they have experts but those experts are there to backup the preconceived political ideas of those who pay them. The politicians on the left find experts to back up their views, the politiians of the right find experts to say just the opposite.

Neither the left or the right are interested in seeking the advice or independent experts, because such experts might support some of the positions of the politicians or party, and criticize others, and the politicians do not like that; it would meaken weaken their position; they rather die than hire such independent advisors.

You see, in representative democracy, it is all about winning the next election. The chances of winning increases the stronger the politician and party appears to the eyes of the voters, and the more ghey can weaken rivals.

Here lies one key advantage of direct democracy. Because prdinary voters have to decide issues, policies and laws, and voters know they are responsible for the consequences, voters want to hear all relevant opinions, partiularly the opinion of independent experts. Most voters are as capable as politicians of undertanding complex issues when experts explain the issues to them. That is what the politician do; they do not have special expertise either, the experts have to explain the issues to them.

The wider diversity of opinions that come into play in direct democracy makes for better decisions. More minds look at the issue in a direct democracy, including more experts, particularly experts not linked to politicalparties.

It is also important to note that in a direct democracy many members of the public have expertise, this elevates the level of the debate and the uality of the decision.

The ample debate direct democracy generates ensures that more people comsider more ideas. Normally, this will also result in a better decision.

Switzerland demonstrates direct democracy works, if you apply it like the Swiss, at all level of government. Direct democracy if not direct democracy if there is no direct democracy at the national level. This is why direct democracy in the US and other places does not work well.

Switzerland has more than 150 years experience with direct democracy. Everybody knows Switerland is the most stable stable country in the World, the one with less polarisation too, because direct democracy forces voters to look at the issues to decide, not just listen to various degrees of demagoguery who also pretend to have special “vision” to decide on behalf of the citizens.

So,if you are tired of politicians making all the decisions; telling you what you can, can’t or must do, decide your taxes, your pension, the national deficit, the national debt, the education system, the health system, etc., then you are ready for direct democracy.

If you are also tired of the influence of the lobbies and the “donors” (investors, really) to political campaigns, of the polarisation of voters, of the partisan media of all hues, you are ready for direct democracy.

But you have to do something the politicians do not mind too much that you have a terrible opinion of them, that you blame tham for this or that, as long as they enjoy all the power representative democracy gives them, and that direct democracy will largely take away, and the many perks that go with it.

Victor Lopez

Direct democracy is necessary to save us from representative democracy

Just in case you are not familiar with the essence of representative democracy, this is what it is. The politicins decide every issue and law, voters only elect them.

First of all, it is the system of national government of the countries we normally refer to as “democracies”. There are only two countries we consider democracies that do not use representative democracy at the national level as the main form of government; Switzerland and Taiwan. In both countries direct democracy is an important tool, but in Switzerland, history shows, it has transferred so much power from the elected representatives to the people that Switzerland is, on all major issues, a direct democracy approaching Ancient Greek democracy.

Taiwan is a very interesting country because it has been able to show you can go from authoritarian government to representative democracy, to direct democracy in only a few decades. Perhaps their fellow Chinese from the continent will decide they are capable of direct democracy too. But Taiwan’s experienc is short; for now, the credibility of direct democracy in the modern era, has to be based on the great success of the Swiss experience of more that one and a half centuries. Although even Switzerland is not as democractic as ancient Greece. It is amazing, but until the Renaissance, democracy was dead in the World; once Ancient Greek direct democracy became extinct, the West took a huge leap backwrds in human development, never mind the dominance of Judeo-Christianity.

Before anyone jumps: “wait a minute, in Greece women and slaves were not allowed to vote”. That is correct, but we are looking at democracy more than 2500 years ago. Anybody with a little bit of common sense will realise that if Greek democracy had continued it would not take till the late 1800s to give women the vote and to abolish slavery.

This does not make Ancient Greece direct democracy right, but it does not invalid the main point of democracy; that ordinary citizens directly make the decisions and do away with professional politician-rulers, in this, not even Switzerland has caught up to the Greeks.

I am sure you have noticed that for practically all the existence of Judaism, Chistianity, Islam and many other beliefs, slavery was accepted, same goes for women not voting, or counting for much in public life, except for a certain “profession”. So, even centuries after the Greeks, slavery and women suppression carried on, in spite of the claims to moral superiority all those groups make, claims and dogmas the Greeks never fell for.

Why direct democracy is the way to save us from representative democracy and the progressively growing mess it creates in all countries where it is the system of national government? Because of one crucial cause; representative democracy gives all power to formulate and execute policies and laws to the elected politicians and cero executive and legislative power to the voters.

The politicians, logically enough, use that power to do what they believe is good for the country, but to do what is good for the country they need to win the election. To get the voters to vote for them, politicians make promises, and carry out actions, which are often bad for the country. Th system forced, even people with good intentions, to to bad things.

Politicians also compete among themselves. They compete individually and also as parties. Parties are organisations that get politicians together to better compete for power. When a politician belongs to a party he or she benefits from the resources of the party; money, knowledge, experience, etc. Already at this stage, the politician often has to submit to the will of the party and forget, in whole or in part, the people who vote for him or her.

I do not know if politicians form parties because of shared ideology with other politicians, of if the parties create ideologies to persuade voters of the importance of ideology, of beliefs, to persuade voters to vote for their beliefs. What it is clear is that, even if they do not create ideology to get the backing of voters who sympathise with the particular political ideology, parties an politicians exaggerate the importance of ideology. It is as if parties discovered that it is important to turn political ideas into modern religions or sects.

The result is that parties use ideology to persuade voters that other parties have leaders and candidates who are incompetent, corrupt or unpatriotic, or the three at the same time. Naturally, such reasoning polarises politicians, and also polarises voters. The voters of each party have come often to consider voters of other parties as incompetent, stupid, lunatics.

The polarisation has also contaminated the media. It has reached a point where polarized voters are no longer interested in objective information or balanced points of view; voters tune in to the media that reinforces their own opinions. This sets the country in a spiral of polarisation.

This is very obvious, and well known, in the United States, but it happens in all countries with representative democracies, even countries that until recently resisted polarisation, for example Sweden, a country now deeply divided.

In representative democracies, politicians make promises because they have the power to fulfill many of them if they win the election and their party wins control of the executive and the legislature. If they do not win, they can always say that it is unfortunate voters were deceived by the winning party with promises that can not be fulfilled or a bad for the country.

If there is no clear winner, the party who wins the executive can always say “we can not do this and this because the legislature is partisan, they stop us because of narrow party interests, even if it is bad for the country”. The legislature, in the hands of the other party, says the opposite; “we have to stop the executive because it will take us down the wrong path”.

Parties and politicians make promises to get elected; when they are in power, things often become worse; they use power to, basically, buy votes with public money, the money of the voters. They will never say that, they are astute enough to buy the votes with money disguised as “fairness”,”rights”, “employment”, “the environment”, “national defence”, “street safety”, “good jobs”, “entrepreneurship”, “better pensions”, “better education”, “strong borders”, “better health care” and on and on. All parties play the game; the differences are only on the emphasis and on some, not most, policies.

Because in representative democracies voters only have power to elect, not decide policies or laws, what voters do is “I think I will vote for this candidate/party because I like what they promise, or I like this initiative”.

The end result is politicians find ways to buy votes; they raise pensions, so pensioners will vote for them. They do many other things so that ordinary voters will vote for them. For example, they will give rebates to people who buy electric cars, or who install energy efficient home heating or home cooling equipment. Such initiatives are geared, not to the people who need to save most on gas or heating, but to the people most likely to vote; more or less the middle and upper middle class. Such people can afford to buy a new electric car or a new high efficiency heat pump or air conditioner, the poor can not.

But even leaving that aside, the people who benefit from such programs, are the ones who also pay for them. Voters can not resist being bribed because it provides them with an immediate benefit. Even if they know they are being bought with the taxes they pay, they can not say no because “if I do not take advantage of the program someone else will”. Voters cave in to such manipulation, often even if they voted for another party.

But there are more problems with representative democracy; to win elections, politicians, parties need to set up competitive campaigns. Such campaigns reuire lots of money. In some countries the money comes from lobbies and from banks. So, you have a situation in which politicians need the money of the rich individuals and corporations to win; without lots of money you can not set up a competive campaign. The politician or the party might have the best policies for the nation, for the short term and fro the long term, but there is no money, voters will not know about it much. But even if they know about it, massive negative campaigning bu those with money will drown the campaign.

This is not unlike the commercial world; a small company might have the best product or service but, if the potential buyers do not know about it, the company will not really be able to compete with the “big boys”.

So, with representative democracy, regardless if the Right or the Left, or the Center or a coalition govern, they never can keep in ming the good of the country, even for the short term, much less fro the long term.

One way politicians buy votes is by making sure there is enough money, created by easy credit and massive paper printing, so that there is economic activity, people can buy houses, cars, etc.

Unfortunately, that creates inflation, which means the average citizen becomes progressively poorer, even if he or she erans “more” money.

But becayse representative democracies removes all responsibility for the fate of the country from voters, voter do niot feel thay are to bale when politicians of all parties print more money to win elections. In the US you see it clearly; it does not matter if Republican or Democrats govern; Obama, Bush,Trump, Biden, all fo the same thing; work to get elected or reelected by put in place policies voters and lobbies like, even if, as often happens, the interest of the lobby and of ordinary citizens, for the short and long term are incompatible.

In some representative democracies, the state finances most of the political campaigns of parties. This eliminate or reduces the pressure of money lobbies on elected politicians, but does not diminish the pressure of the lobbies who help the parties with non-monetary contributions, or who can deliver lots of votes.

By removing direct responsibility for the fate of the country, for short term and long term policies, for laws, from the voters, voters can not do much about what the politicians do about the key economic and fiscal policies of the country, as all parties are forced to basically do the same thing, keep voters happy at any cost.

Eventually, the country starts to deteriorate, as fiscal and economic policies based on growing private and public debts and mlkney printing are not forever sustainable. That is why all currencies not backed assets independent of government control, such as gold and, it seem now, bitcoin, end up collapsing. When that happens, anything can happen, as history shows, but is never good.

To top it off, representative democracies put in the hands of judeges sekected by the politicians, the fate of major laws andmajor policies.

All this means that to have voters that are forced to vote responsibly, it is essential for voters to demand the the power to decide policies and laws, and to have veto plower over any law or policy politicians want to approve or have approved. Likewise, it is also essential to limit the power of supreme court justices to deciding civil and criminal cases, and to remove from the power to decide if a policiy or law is “constitutional”.

When voters really decide issues, not just elect polticians, voters force themselves to inform themselves of the details or issues. They also listen to assorted experts to explain complex issues. As a result, the country makes sounder decisions because voters are froced to consider the good and bad, short term and long term effects of the votes.

That what direct democracy is about; “responsible government by voters who have no choice but to vote responsibly”. That is why Switzerland is the best governed country in the World. Swiss voters have removed all key decision making power from elected politicians.

Because in a direct democracy the politicians have much less power than the politicians, it doe not make much sense to “donate” millions to political campaigns. Other lobbies, like large unions or professional groups, do not put so much emphasis either into suggesting to members to vote for this that party, because theknow the members will have to vote as individuals to decide issues, specific issues, not as a herd. On some issues, union members and others may vote “right”, on others “left”. In a direct democracy, voters have more power and are also freer and mone autonomous than in representative democracies, Switzerland has been and continues to be an amazing pioneer and success.

That is what the citizens of Canada, the US, France, the UK, Germany, Japan, Australia, India and all other reprsentative democracies have to do too, deman direct democracy. Direct democracy is the system grown up voters demand and that also makes voters grow up further.

I do not even write one line about non-democratic countries because such systems are illegitimate; they are all inhumane. It does not matter is one party, one person, one religion, one ideology rules, they are all oppressive.

If you want to rescue your country from the clutches of lobbies, of polarization, of the elected aristocrats, which is what politicians are in representative democracies, you have to push for direct democracy, now.

Victor Lopoez

Direct democracy means better government because the voters have more power, and the politician, the parties, the lobbies and the bureaucrats have lesss

Direct democracy essentially means that the balance of power shifts from the elites to the voters.

In a direct democracy, the political leaders, the political parties, the big corporate and professional lobbies and the top bureaucrats have less power than the voters. In a direct democracy, voters become the top and final decision makers. Even the highest court of the land can not overturn the results of a public referendum. All the court could do is order a repetition of the referendum if illegalities have been committed in the process of collecting signatures, the campaigns, vote counting, etc.

In other words, in a direct democracy the voters are the top decision makers. This is what democracy is supposed to be. As you probably know, democracy is the system of government invented by the Ancient Greeks some 2600 years ago.

To the Greeks, “dēmokratia” meant “popular government,” from dēmos “common people” and “kratos” “rule, strength”. This clearly means that the people, the common people are the ones ruling. If the Greeks had meant “rule by those elected by the people” they would not use the word democracy, they use an expression like “διακυβέρνηση από εκλεγμένους αντιπροσώπους” which more or less means “rule by the elected representatives”.

The term “representative democracy” would not make sense to the Greeks because it is an oxymoron; what sense does it make to say: “rule by the representatives of rule by the people”. If it is rule by elected representatives it is not rule by the people, if it is rule by the people it is not rule by the elected representatives.

The term “representative democracy” is a trick some leaders of the French Revolution, among them, the totalitarian Robespierre, who was happy to guillotine the French King and his absolute power, but quickly assumed absolute power, until he was executed too. Unfortunately, the term, and that form of elected aristocracy governmemt which is what representative democracy is, survived him.

Representative democracy is a huge improvement over absolute rule by kings, dictators or priests, because it brought political freedom, so that people could speak fairly freely and also decide who would be ruling the country.

The English accomplished that much too, far earlier than the French and with less blood shed, although they just muddled through, without the intellectual, head and shoulders above, elegance of Madame Guillotine. Nevertheless, the French Revolution was great leap forward, it made people aware that the people should have political freedom and also should be able to decide who governs, although the people still would not govern.

Direct democracy means rule by the people, nothing else. Representative democracy would be real democracy, or very close to it, if the people let the elected politicians develop policies and laws but the people reserve for themselves several key powers. When that happens is as if the people say: “we have direct democracy a la carte; on any issue we want to decide, we have the power to do so”.

These are the major power the people have in a direct democracy, which they do not have in a representative democracy:

The power to reject any policy or law developed by the politicians.

The power to tell the politicians what specific additional policies and laws they must develop and put into practice.

The power to change the constitution without the consent or support of the politicians, and beyond the reach of the highest court in the land.

The power to organize referendums at the local, state, provincial, regional and national levels, to decide any policy, law or change to the constitution, approximately 1% of registered voters sign a demand to hold a referendum. The demand can not be turned down by the executive or the legislature, even if both bodies unanimously disagree with the demand. The highest court in the land can not stop a referendum,or its results either. The results of referendums are binding for government. Government can propose alyernatives to the organizers of the referendum, who may accept ot reject them.

The people who collect the signatures are also given plenty of time to do so.

The number of signatures required and the time alloed to collect them, must make it easy to meet both requirements, otherwise the will of the people could not be readily known.

Another important aspect of direct democracy is that any person or group, any political party (even it has no elected representatves), can collect the required signatures. This means that in a direct democracy the concerns of any political, social, linguistic or ethnic minority, able to collect the signatures of 1% of registered voters, has the opportunity to have their concerns formally considered by their fellow citizens.

Some people say that direct democracy can turn into the “dictatorship of the majority”. Certainly, history does not show that. Ancient Greek democracy did not allow women and slaves to vote but that was not because of democracy, even before democracy, women and slaves were not allowed to participate in political life. To the Greeks, it was natural to keep women and slaves off democracy because they have always been kept off politics.

But we should not forget we are talking of 2600 centuries back. I have no doubt that if Greek democracy had survived, women would have gained the right to vote much sooner than they did when Judeo-Chistianity became dominant. Likewise with respect to slavery; I have no doubt it would have been abolished sooner because the inquisitive Greek mind would have figured out, sooner than any religion or civisation, that keeping women out of public life and keeping slaves was wrong. It is because their sense of justice that they arrived at the conclusion democracy was the more ethical form of government.

In the only direct democracy we know have, Switzerland, there is no dictatorship by the majority at all. The overwhelming German-speaking majority, 64% of the country has shown no desire at all to vote based on their ethnic-culture; they know that to impose their “cultural” will will trigger civil unrest, and that would not be good for them either as unrest damages daily life for everybody.

Direct democracy is superior to representative democracy because it prevents politicians from going off on their own. The mechamisms and rules of direct democracy ensure that the politicians must follow the will of the people on any importan issue. In a direct democracy, politicians soon learn that they must ensure any policy or law must gain acceptance among voters, otherwise it will be killed by them.

This forces rival politicians and parties to work together. In a direct democracy, even if party wins an absolute majority, it does not have freedom to pass a law if the majority of voters do not support it, because they voters could organise a referendum and vote it down. So parties, at leasy tha major parties, work cooperatively because they know they need the support of the majority of voters, for the policy oir law to survive

Another advantage of direct democracy is that in it the voters are responsible for what happens to the country. They know that if they do not hold a referendum to stop a law or government policy, it is because they did not act when they could.

The responsibility direct democracy places on voters, others also forces them to be informed, to listen to the arguments of political parties, of other interested groups and also independent experts.

The wider debate ensures more ideas are considered, and this generates a better solution. In representative democracies there is no formal public debate leading to a decision by the public; the politicians debate, they listen to their own experts (who always have a political or professional ax to grind). In representative democracies politicians seek experts to back uop what they want to do. In a direct democracy the people want to listen to all important experts. In a direct democracy more independent experts participate in public forums, giving the people more unbiased information than the information the experts hired by government and parties give politicians.

Direct democracy also forces people to center on the practical aspects of the issues, not the ideological aspects. Ideology-centered decisions, polarize voters and also force voters to vote with the ideologicak herd they belong to. This tyope of voting is more emotionalk and less rational.

How do I know all this about direct democracy?, because I study Swiss direct democracy. Swiss direct democracy includes all levels of government. It gives people the final say on natiomal issues too. This is why it is superior to California-style democracy. Besides, it is a lot easier to collect the required signatures in Switzerland than in California.

There is another problem for Californians, for a number of reasons, for Californian voters, it is not obvious that if they vote for more public services, taxes or debt will have to be raised, that they are responsible. In part it is because the level of government with most impact on Californians, on taxes and most other key issues, is the Federal Government, which is completely outside any derect democracy control by voters, by the taxpayers.

Some people say that direct democracy is not practical in a large country, not so. The major issues are common to most countries, large and small. Keep in mind also that Swiss style, like California style, direct democracy are direct democracies by exception; if voters feel politicians are following the will of the people and do not annoy the people, the people will not call for referendums.

Modern technology, which safely allows us to purchase good on line with credit or debit car, pay with email, etc., can also be made capable to accept votes with a voting card.

Surveys show that most Americans, Canadians, Europeans, etc., favor direct democracy. If those countries do not have it is because the politicians do not want their power reduced, for obvious reasons, but also because us, the voters, do not actively demand it.

The Swiss were in the same situation until 154 years ago. As a result of another pandemic they said; “enough of is not representative democracy, from now on we will have direct control of the politicians on any issue we decide to control, voting to elect them and then let them loose is not enough!” The results are in: Switzwerland is by far, the most democratic better governed country in the World,

Victor Lopez

The superiority of direct democracy over representative democracy for minorities

There are meany reasons that convinced me that direct democracy is a superior system. Today I will discuss direct democracy and minorities.

Direct democracy essentially fulfils the definition of democracy; “government by the people”. Direct democracy does that because it puts in place the mechanisms enabling the voters to prevail over the executive and the legislative.

In a direct democracy votes have veto over policies and legislation whenever voters believe that it is necessary to stop them. But direct democracy goes a step further; it removes from the highest court in the land the power to overturn the results of public referendums. In a direct democracy, no judges interpret the constitution, only by voting do the people decide what is part of the constitution.ç

The first impression of someone who does not really know how democracy works, could be: “but if the people have the final decision-making power. could not that become the tyranny of the majority?”, “aren’t mos people ignorant of the technical aspects of issues for them to vote in a competent way?, will not the elected politicians and the experts they consult, reach more competent decisions than ordinary voters?”

The answer to those doubts are no.

We haver the evidence of Switzerland, the best managed, less polarized, most stable, most prosperous, with the lowest employment, better universal health care, highest trust in politicians, etc.

But, does the fact that Switzerland has been practising direct democracy for the past 154 years have anything to do with where Switzerland stands now in the World? I believe so. Switzerland is not 100% direct democracy; the politicians develop policies and laws, but the people, when they choose to, have veto power on anything the politicians do. The people can also decide that politicians must implement policies and laws even when the politicians had no intention of doing so, or may even oppose them. So, while, formally, Switzerland is a direct-representative democracy, because the voters ahve more power than the politicians, Switzerland eseentially is a direct democracy because “the people govern”, the voters prevail by referendum, on any issue they want to prevail.

In my view, the major reason why a direct democracy has not become “the tyranny of the majority” is because direct democracy makes the majority feel secure. As we know, when people feel secure, are often more flexible and tolerant.

But there is another factor; when the people have the control of, for example, how the education system will work, they know that if lower income areas have, on top of being poorer, an inferior education system, not only poverty will be harder to escape, it is also more likely that crime will rise. We all know that the major victims of crime, assaults, theft, etc., are ordinary people because the “upperclasses”, including the political class, often live lives which protect them and, therefore make them less sensitive to the problems crime causes in then lives of ordinary people, no matter how many sound bites they generate about the relationship between poverty and crime. So, direct democracy does not become a tyranny at all, it becomes the opposite, better democracy for all.

Another area of friction in many societir is languaage-culture. Again, Switzerland is the example. They mamage to accomodate their minorities like nowhere else; with 64% German speakers, the French and Italian minorities, even the tiny Romansh minority, of less than 50 000 people, none of those minorities feels oppressed.

No doubt it is, among other reasons, because German-speaking majority understands tha peaceful coexistence with minorities requieres respect. The German-speakers show that respect by recognizing that in areas where the clearly dominant language in not German, the members of the minorities do not have to learn or speak German and the official and often, only language in the area is French or Italian, not German.

But is does not end here; the German-speaking majority, as well as the French minority, which is the largest minority, and represents 23% of the Swiss population, seem to have recognized it would not be a good idea to identify language and culture with territory. The result is that the German-speaking population is organized in 17 German-speaking only cantons, the French in 4 French-speaking only cantons. The Italian speakers have one canton, and the Romansh-speakers share one bilingual canton with German-speakers. The rest of the cantons are also bilingual, mostly German-French, perhaps because the populations are geographically intermingled in those cantons and gets along smoothly.

However, far from being “tyrannical”, majorities in Switzerland are flexible, even when it comes to letting the minority in one canton break away to form their own canton or join and adjacent canton of a different language.

This is what the German-speaking majprity of Canton of Bern; they agreed, by popular referendum, that the French-speaking minority of the canton could create their own canton. This happened in 1979. More recently, some French speaking towns of the Canton of Bern, who in the earlier referendum decided tt stay in this German-speaking canton, held a referendum to leave the Canton of Bern and join the Canton of Jura, the majority and the minority voted, the resul was that the argument of minority won the majority of German-speakers over; the official reconfiguration of the cantons of Jura and Bern will take place in 2026.

Just try to do something similar in the US. For example, giving areas that are mostly Spanish-speaking, or native American-speaking, or culturally black areas, their own states. Or try to create out of Quebec a new English-speakinh province of Montreal West-Eastern Townships for 500 000 to 900 000 people, or a French-speaking province out of the French-speaking areas of New Brunswick. Or how about native-american speaking cantons or cantons of Eskimos. In Switzerland they hace several very small cantons with population of less than 70 000 people, one as low as 15 000, this means that minorities in a direct democracy can be accommodated quite well and prevent the problems that minorities that feel oppresses suffer, and that become problems for the majority too.

But it is not just the US or Canada. If you go to France, Spain, Belgium and other countries, you can see the mess their cultural-language relations are in. Even the UK, in spite of its long history of stability, divded its territory along language-culture borders. If the UK did what Switzerland did, it would have several English-speaking cantons out of England, and some too out of Scotland, may be even Wales.

So, to have fewer “oppressed minority” problems in your country, direct democracy could go a long way to accommodate them, precisely because direct democracy gives the majority the sense of being the majority that they, logically, need because, humans are territorial, but when they feel secure, they can also be flexible.

The key factor is that in Switzerland, the majority decides, not the politicians. Ordinary people, when they directly decide, are far more sensible than the politicians who, often can not resist using language, race, etc., as a way to get votes. This inevitably, polarises the minorities. When voters are responsible for what happens on the ground they vote mnuch more sensibly than the politicians. The people focus on the facts of the issue, politicians always focus on the next election and because of that generate polarisation and generate solutions contaminated by ideology.

But it is necessary to study in detail how the Swiss manage direct democracy because, like in most everything, “the devil is in the details”.

Victor Lopez

What is wrong with American polititics? Are other democracies in much better shape?

I follow the US media of all tendencies and follow the politics. Whike I live in Canada, I am extremely interested in US politics because the fate of the free World is, again, in the hands of America.

In a way, the situation is not too different from the rise of the Nazis in Germany and, to a lesser extent, the rise of Imperial Japan. We now have to face China, clearly a dictatorship that is also resorting to a version of state-controlled Capitalism to redress some “wrongs”, China suffered at the hand so of the West. To me, the Chinese government’s position is absurd. China was rescued from the clutches of Imperial Japan by the US and its allies.

China was also rescued from the misery and madness of Mao’s years by the capitalist ideas of the West. Nevertheless, the Chinese government insists on the “humiliations” at the hands of the West.

This means we need a strong US, a strong democracy, a society where once elections are over, is united in all key internal and external issues. That is not happening now.

Sadly, the US is more polarized than ever before. I believe Trump’s style pushed the polarisation further, but the Democrats, and much of the media, with their highly emotional, almost hysterical reactions, pushed it even further. They treated Trump’s often course style as if that was the whole person of Trump, some even suggested Trump had totalitarian tendencies. Those are absurd accusations because in Trump’s long history nobody has accused him of being authoritarian. Now, with Trump gone, at leas for now, the polarisation continues.

Both sides use anything as a political weapon; for example, the Democrats and the pro-Democrat media, politicized Rittenhouse’s triel ton unimaginable heights, the guy was metaphorically lynched by the media. Social media too is full of implications that, “he would not find a place to hide”. The trial was almost a formality for those people: for them Rittenhouse was guilty, no trial needed.

But the Republicans also politicized the trial. This is obvious now; with the trial over, and Rittenhouse declared “not guilty”, a few Republican politicians are even offering jobs in Washington to him. First of all, Rittenhouse was declared “not guilty”, he was not declared “innocent”, the courts never do that.

It is also reasonable to think that if he was tried it is because there was reasonable grounds that his actions were illegal. If that is the case, Rittenhouse is not a hero, his actions should not be considered an example to anybody, with the exception of his helping remove graffiti from a high school. Certainly, to be on the streets with a rifle, “just in case” and go to a place where trouble was likely o occur, is not to exemplary behaviour at all. I do not question he might have been justified to use the weapon when he felt his life threatened, but that is no heroic action.

Any time you turn US TV on is impossible to find a station that is not politicized: their news are politicized and its political and economic shows are partisan to the eyebrows, to the point you can not believe any of them. I also have to visit many web sites, in the US and abroad, to try to have an idea of what the facts are on any issue but the political bias is so widespread you can never be sure if what you know is factual, not a politically tainted reality.

This brings me to what I believe is the solution to depoliticize and deradicalize America, and renew its democracy; America should take the next natural step in democracy; become a direct democracy. Direct democracy dials down the political temperature radically.

Why does that happen? Because in a direct democracy the people directly decide many issues, including policies and laws. By making the people responsible, by removing much power from the politicians, the political fights lose virulence; as the politicians lose much of their executive and legislative power, the fight for power is not so intense, elections no longer mean so much because the people are the final decision makers.

The lobbies also know there is no much point in pouring so much money into elections; it does not matter if the politician, or the party, the lobbyists support wins, because they do not have the power to deliver the policy, the law, the contract, etc., the lobbies want.

When the people have to decide laws and policies, when they are responsible for what happens in the country now and to the country in the future, they are not interested in partisan media, they want the media to inform, to provide the facts surrounding the issue because they have to decide the issue. If the media provide opinion, the voters do not want partisan opinion.

In a direct democracy voting is very serious, voters do not just have to elect this or that politician with the “vision”, the “leadership qualities”, or some other slogan the political marketers come up with. The people need, like any executive, the facts, realistic, factual information, not propaganda. In this way, the media also become much less partisan, or no partisan at all, in a direct democracy.

How do I know all this?, because I studied the Swiss system; it delivers. For many reasons it is much more effective than the direct democracy they practice in California. California’s, and other US States’ direct democracy does ot have much in common with Switzerland’s. Another key difference is that the Swiss have direct democracy at the national level too.

The Swiss found inspiration for their constitution in the American constitution, but in 1867, they introduced a radical improvement; they introduced direct democracy. It is time now for America to find inspiration in the Swiss constitution and political practices.

I am convinced that with direct democracy polarisation will radically drop in America, unity will be the normal thing again. That is a very important change we need to navigate the ugly years we may face with China, until the Chinese decide, like I am sure they will, as the Chinese of Taiwan did, that dictatorship is a bad system for the human soul and also for the pocket.

But Canada, the UK, Germany, Australia, Japan, France and other representative democracies, while not as polarized as the US, they are also polarised and for the same reason; politicians in representative democracies have too much power; the fight for the power drives them to extremes and contaminates all of society.

I suggest you inform yourself about Swiss direct democracy. Do not rely on the opinion of pundits, do some research yourself. I believe it will open your eyes to the falsehoods about direct democracy, and you will see it is the system American and other countries need, even China will end up as direct democracy. As a matter of fact, Taiwan has taken important steps in that direction, inspired, as you might guess, by the Swiss.

Cheers!

Victor Lopez

Direct democracy is emotional intelligence in government

The Swiss just decided by popular vote three important issues. They did that on November 28th.

It is important to know that the Swiss government must obey the decisions of populr referendums. It is also very important to know that in a direct democracy, like Switzerland’s, it is the people who have the authority to force the government to hold referendums, provided that the proponents of the referendum collect the required number of signatures.

The process of collecting the required number of signatures is very straightforward and makes it relatively easy to have referendums. This is why the Swiss hold referendums several times each year and on several issues.

On Nov. 28th the Swiss decided three issues.

On the Covid Law, they decided several things, perhaps the most important is that the government can issue rules to require a Covid certificate of vaccination. Those against the proposal to issue certificates argued that it would divide the country because many Swiss are against certificates.

The result of the referendum on the Covid Law was that 62% of the voters approved that proposal for the government to require vaccination certificates to attend public events, etc.

By deciding in a popular referendum, a completely democrat decision, those against the certificates have no legitimate option other than comply. It is not different than when, in a election, their party does not win; the only option is to accept the result.

With the referendum, the Swiss go to the heart of the issue; “let the people decide”. In this way, vaccination certificates in Switzerland have not becomedo not become the political football they have become in countries where the politicians decide such issues.

Another issue the Swiss people decided democratically was the Nursing Care Initiative.

The initiative was approved by 61% of voters.

The initiative will modify the Swiss Constitution to require that high quality nursing be available to all Swiss. The initiative also requires that nurses salaries be increased. It will also increase the autonomy of nurses. For example, they will be able to bill health insurance companies, directly, not just for services ordered by a doctor. By the way, Switzerland has the best universal coverage health care system, but it is privately funded and administered. It is another interesting issue.

The third initiative was the Justice Initiative.

Those who collected the signatures to hold the referendum on this initiative argued that Federal Supreme Court Judges should not be appointed by the politicians and that the judges should not have to be reelected. The intention of the initiative is to make the judges independent of political parties. With the new initiative, if approved. federal judges would be appointed in a lottery.

The initiative also would ensure that judges not affiliated with parties have a fair chance of becoming federal judges.

At this point it is important to keep in mind that Swiss Supreme Court Judges can not overturn the results of any popular referendum on constitutional grounds, in Switzerland, not the Executive, nor the Legislature, nor the Judges can “check and balance” the authority of the people.

The people voted, 68% of the voters decided not to change the current system for judges. But keep in mind Swiss Supreme Court Judges, even if linked to parties, have essentially no political power’ much different from, for example, the US Supreme Court.

67.5% of the voters turned out to vote across te nation.

At the same time that Swiss voters decided national issues, local voters decided local issues. For example, in the city of Lucern, 82 000 inhabitants, 64% of the voters approved the construction of new building for government offices.

In that canton of Zurich, also on Nov. 28, the citizens voted and decided to ban fossil fuel heating systems. 63% of the voters decided that was the way to go for the Canton. Voter participation was 63% too.

It is obvuous the system of referendums deepens democracy, it makes voters responsible for what happens in the country, the canton, the city, the town and the villages.

Direct democracy is an example of collective emotional intelligence at work, because it ensures that all voices are heard, anyone, any group, no matter how small can collect signatures to have a referendum on any issue.

This means that in Switzerland, extra-parliamentary parties can be heard at the national level by the system of popular referendums. It is difficult in Switzerland for people to complain that the politicians or the government does not listen to them; if they gather the signatures, propose a referendum on the issue and voters side with them, the government has no choice, it has to listen to the people and do what the people say. The legislature, even if unanimously agreed, can not stop a referendum and have to do what the results of the referendum tell them they must do.

In many other cantons and urban centres the Swiss also voted various local issues.

The people of Switzerland know they have a system that enables them to have power, to know they are not ignored; what is more emotionally important for citizens than to know they count, they are heard, they can not be ignored, they really run their country, canton, etc.?

Representative democracy is not able to create the stability direct democracy creates because, by its nature, the system does not take into account the wishes and concerns, the emotions of citizens, as direct democracy does.

We could say the the Swiss system is a more emotionally intelligent system.

You can have the same system in your country, but the politicians do not want it. They will tell you thinks like: “direct democracy is the dictatorship of the majority (false), “our country is too big for direct democracy” (false), “direct democracy is too slow” (false), “direct democracy creates voter apathy and few turn upto vote (false as you just saw). Besides, in one year, 90% of the Swiss voters vote in a referendum. “Switzerland is very different (false); the Swiss had representative democracy until 1867. The people of Zurich, after a pandemic, they had enough of the politicians making all the decisions, they decide to decide themselves. The politicians resisted for a while (because they did not want to lose all that power they have in representative democracies, power that transfers to the people in direct democracies).

Direct democracy, like representative democracy, do not happen without effort. Even representative democracy is not the natural state of human societies, it only happens by deliberate efforts and considerable collective skills. Direct democracy requires more effort, more political intelligence.

Victor Lopez

It is clear, even Sweden needs direct democracy

How do we know? Just study the Swiss system; direct democracy at the local, canton (states or provinces in other countries) and at the national level.

Read about what is going on in Sweden’s politics and compare it with Swiss politics; disorder vs. order, cooperation among parties vs. confrontation.

The basic difference between representative democracy and direct democracy? In a representative democracy the politicians are the bosses of the people; they tell the people what laws they must follow, the taxes they will pay, what health system they will have, how their children will be educated, what pensions they will receive, what rights they will have and on and on, EVERYTHING is controlled by the politicians. It does not matter if the Right or the Left governs. The only change is the type of control. Either tells you what you can or must do.

In a direct democracy the politicians control practically everything; the people have only two key powers or rights (granted by the politicians!, it is a joke!); freedom of expression and the power to decide what person or what party will run their lives for the next several years, until the next election.

In a direct democracy, the voters are the bosses of the politicians. In a formally pure direct democracy the voters decide all issues, there are no elected politicians, people elect other citizens for certain key posts, but there are no political parties.

Many people believe that a pure direct democracy, where voters decide all laws, policies, treaties, etc., is not practical in large societies. Perhaps that is why nobody has practised full direct democracy the way its inventors, the Ancient Greeks did. But the Swiss have found a way which makes direct democracy practical for any country, large or small.

The transition from dictatorships, authoritarian regimes, religious dictatorships and the likes of them, to direct democracy is very unlikely, but it could happen. After all, the French Revolution overthrew the authoritarian King to bring direct democracy to France. Unfortunately, some leaders of the Revolution betrayed its key goal. What emerged was representative democracy; much better than the absolute King, but not real democracy, because the people do not govern, the politicians do.

Because of that my blog is addressed mainly to the people of representative democracies; the transition to direct democracy, at least to Swiss style direct democracy, should be relatively easy in representative democracies, that is what the Swiss did in 1867. But they had to demand it, the elected politicians will never bring direct democracy, unless they are pressured.

The twist the Swiss introduced to representative democracy is this; the people will keep the elected politicians, the politicians will still be able to pass laws, formulate policies, etc., but the people have three key powers; the power to stop any law, the power to tell the politicians what laws or policies they must develop, as well as the power to change the constitution.

This means that, normally, the Swiss people let their politicians carry on with the business of governing, but the people reserve the right to intervene whenever they decide it is necessary. The decision about the necessity of putting an issue before the voters requires the collection of 50 000 or 100 000 signatures, depending on the issue.

In other words, Swiss voters are the clear bosses of the politicians, but they give the politicians lots of leeway.

This sharing of power between the people and the politicians ensures the politicians always govern according to the will of the people. Most of the time the politicians are left alone because they have learned to govern according to the will of the people. From practice, Swiss politicians are pretty smart at knowing what laws and policies they can pass without annoying the people and triggering a referendum.

The way the Swiss politicians have found most effective at governing in tune with the people is by coalition, always. This means the major parties, who represent 70-80% of voters govern together, always.

The beauty of the system is that it produces government without drama. The system allows politicians to continuously adjust what they do to the issues and the values of the voters. There is no drama, no polarisation, no dramatic call to new elections, no paralysing fights among parties and politicians, no dramatic votes of no confidence, and on and on.

Swiss politics is far and away smoother, more civilised than in any other country. Even the better running representative democracies, for example Sweden’s, are noisy, divided, polarised places. Practically all other representative democracies are in worse shape than Sweden. The US, France, the UK, Germany, etc., are sad soap operas.

Before you dismiss Swiss style direct democracy, study it in detail. Soon you will realise that the problems in other countries are due to the system of representative democracy that, for many reasons, divides, polarises politicians and the people.

The problem in representative democracies is not the executive or the legislative, the Right or the Left, the corrupt politicians, the lobbies, etc., it is the system that generates destructive, inefficient behaviours in politicians, parties and voters.

I hope you take an interest in direct democracy for your own good, the good of your children and the good of your nation.

Victor Lopez

Does your country need more nurses, (or doctors, engineers or scientists)? This is how direct democracy tackles the issue.

On November 28th, the citizens of, Switzerland, the only established direct democracy in the World (since the Ancient Greeks!) will decide several national issues. When I say decide, I mean they decide; there is nothing the executive, the legislative of the highest court in the land can do to prevent the referendum, which are mandated by law or mandated by the people once a group of citizens manages to collect the required number of signatures.

Nor can the politicians of the judges stop or sidetrack the results of the referendum, the results are binding.

This means that nobody, short of a later popular referendum, can overturn the results.

In this system, the executive, the legislative and the supreme court can not call referendums either, even if the three branches unanimously agree, only the people can do that, or if the law (which have to be accepted by the people) mandates a referendum.

I will concentrate today on the first of the three referendum. It is to decide if the nursing care system will be strengthened by graduating more nurses, improving working conditions and salaries for nurses in hospitals, all hospitals, public and private.

I hope today´s post will help you ask yourself, and ask the politicians in your country, the question “why we can do that here about nursing or any other issue?”.

Keep in mind that Switzerland has already the best system of universal health care in the World. Interestingly, it is privately funded and privately managed, but the government helps pay the premiums of people with limited resources. Regardless of the Swiss healt system, a group of, mostly women nurses got this referendum under way.

The referendum is, again, another lesson for people in other countries of the power the people of Switzerland have over their politicians. In Switzerland, the people really set the agenda but, unlike what happens in your representative democracy (parlamentarian or presidential).

One of the lessons for other countries is that the referendum was set in motion by a group of mostly women nurses. In no other country do women have such power; never mind the verbose speeches about “empowering women” spewing out of the mouths of activists and “progressive” politicians in other countries. The reality, the hard truth, is that, because of the direct democracy the Swiss have, Swiss womenand men, have more real power than the women and men of any other country. The Swiss do not need activists to push politicians; they organize referendums that give politicians no option but to act as the voters want.

The committee who organised the referendum is not a political party,a nurse’s union or another lobby, but it could have been. Most referendums in Switzerland are not organised by political parties, unions or professional associations, probably because it would hurt the credibility of the proposal. Even parties not represented in parliament can organize a referendum in Switzerland. In no other country can the representatives of minority voters put an issue that concerns them to a binding popular regferendum.

The committee collected the required 100 000 signatures within the 18 month allowed.

This gave the committee the authority to present the proposal that would go to referendum to the Swiss government. The government felt the proposal went too far and presented to the committee a counter proposal. Under the Swiss system, the committee could accept the proposal. If it did, the referendum would not take place. In this case, the committee rejected the government counterprosal, this means the binding referendum will take place on Nov. 28th, 2021.

The counter proposal prepared by the government was a joint effort of the executive and the legislature. That the executive and the legislature cooperate in such efforts, instead of the usual mutual criticism of the executive and the legislative that we see in representative democracies, is one of the beneficial unintended consequences of direct democracy.

It is very interesting to see how direct democracy pushes Swiss politicians to cooperate. It is also interesting to see how their cooperation does not take place to neutralize the power of the people, because they can’t.

The referendum asks voters to decide if the government must put in place measures to accomplish the following:

The federal government and the cantonal governments (cantons are not unlike American States, but with considerable more autonomy) must train enough nurses in Switzerland to ensure the current shortage of nurses disappears.

The governments must also ensure that the social value of nursing increases. This will be done by improving the working conditions of nurses and their salaries.

The national discussions that all referendums in Switzerland trigger, has increased the awareness of the public about the shortage of nurses. Preliminary surveys show that 82 percent of the Swiss will vote “yes” in the referendum.

The discussions also educate people on the issue, so that they vote on the basis of ample information from all points of view. Depending on the issue, votes may show up at different levels. Perhaps some issues are of no interest to many voters, or they decide not to vote for other motives.

One of the positive effects of the measures is that Switzerland will be training enough nurses to be self sufficient in nurses. This means that many countries with lower incomes than Switzerland, who now see how they spend huge amounts of money to train nurses who then leave for other countries, may see that fewer nurses abandon their home country. It is obvious that rich countries must not poach professionals from countries with lower resources. What happens with nurse also happens with doctors, engineers, scientists, etc. How are those countries going to advance on their own if their professionals leave? Not likely, so they end up as low skill labour pools to cheaply manufacture goods for the large corporations of the developed World. These are separate issues, but of unimaginable imporance for poorer countries.

The main purpose of the referendums is not to help less developed countries. But the mechanism of the referendum allows people, ordinary people, to put to a binding national vote any issue. That is impossible in all representative democracies.

In representative democracies, the people have to make a lot of noise to “convince” (scare, really) the politicians into action. However, the politicians in representative democracies can not be forced to act, there is no mechanism for the people to impose their will on the executive and the legislative. The ruling politicians may calculate that other issues will come up before the next election. It can also happen that, even it those in power decide to act to please the protesters, by election time, another party may win and the whole process has to start all over again; the Swiss can act on the specific issue, and it does not matter if at election time another party wins; the referendum has to be carried out just the same and the results are equally binding.

So why you can not organize in your country binding referendums like the Swiss do? I believe it is because most people do not know about direct democracy. They do not know that itb gives them more power and that it works better than representative democracy. They do not know because in the schools, in the media and, perticularly, the politicians themselves, progressive or conservative do not want to give up their power, which is the major thing direct democracy requires. All they hear is generalities about “our great constitution”, as if it was a document for eterenity. The Swiss modify their constitution regularly, that is how they introduced direct democracy in 1867. Before then, Swiss politicians (representative democracy) did not want direct democracy either!

In my twitter and facebook conversations I notice how many ordinary people just do not know what direct democracy is. Some even believe it is mob rule, such is the degree of misinformation! No mob rule in Switzerland, just rational, calmly debated referendums and votes.

Victor Lopez

All important decisions in the country must be made with the explicit approval of the voters, that is direct democracy

Democracy means “government by the people” Government by the people means that, that the people govern, that the people make or explicitly approve any decision the people consider important.

The people can not govern through elected representatives if the elected representatives make all decisions. In representative democracies, the politicians; the executive, the legislature and the judges, appointed by the politicians make all all the laws, interpret all the laws, the executive also makes all decisions without the consent of the people.

The legislature can stop the executive from making certain decisions, so can the judges, but the people can not stop the executive, the legislature or the judges.

If the people can not make any executive or legislative decision, and if they can not stop executive decisions or laws, how can we say that representative democracy is “government by the people” ? It is not, no matter how many pirouettes the politicians, the lobbies and the academics that support representative democracy, make.

In a representative democracy voters only have one power; the power to decide who will govern, that’s all. It is a big improvement over absolute monarchies, oligarchies, theocracies, one person or one party dictatorships, but it is not democracy.

It is time for voters to also have the right, the power, to decide issues, laws and anything else voters consider that they want to decide.

This means that decisions such as level of taxation, signing international treaties, declaring war, the public health system, the educational system, all laws and all changes to the constitution must be under the control of the people in one of two ways; because they can stop and reverse any decision by the executive and the legislature, any law, any treaty, etc., and they can also initiate and approve changes in all those areas.

It also means the judges will not be able to decide that the results of any decision are contrary to the constitution because the people are the fathers and mothers of the constitution, not the judges, not the founding fathers or anyone else.

Both, the decisions by the people to stop the executive or the legislative, and the changes initiated by the people, must also be binding for the executive and the legislature. F

Furthermore, not even a unanimous decision by the legislature, nor the supreme court must have the authority to reverse or override a decision by the people.

Many polls show that more and more voters, and citizens in general, are “losing faith in democracy”. That is not true, they are losing faith in representative democracy because representative democracy is not government by the people.

If representative democracy were in reality, “government by the people”, how could the people lose confidence in democracy or even in the politicians?, it would be absurd. It makes no sense for the people to lose confidence and trust in representative democracy if representative democracy is “government by the people”.

Why then most people equate representative democracy with democracy?, because the politicians, the lobbies and the academic elitists want the people to believe that. That way, if the system dos no work, if politicians govern ignoring the people, if politicians ignore promises made during political campaigns, or do things they never said they would do, or do the the opposite of what they promised, the people will not blame the system of representative democracy. They hope you will blame the politicians,the parties, the lobbies who pressure the politicians with “donations” to campaigns etc.

But the problem is the system of direct democracy that allows politicians to govern the way they want. The politicians know the people can not stop them.

All the people can do is vote the current politicians or party out of power. Whatever law or decision those kicked out made, it can not be changed. unless a new party wins the election.

Unfortunately, the new party… does exactly the same thing but in a different political direction. Besides, at election time, regardless of what the current people in power have done, the extreme polarisation created by representative democracy pushes most voters to vote for “their party” again.

Representative democracy is an obsolete system that gradually deteriorates the faith of the people in democracy because it is not a democracy. In a direct democracy, a real democracy, that disenchantment with the politicians and the parties does not happen, can not happen, because the people are in control.

How do we know that?, because the Swiss have direct democracy. Swiss politicians enjoy a higher level of trust than in any representative democracies, including the Scandinavian democracies.

If you want to change the situation is your country, if you want the politicians to govern as the people want, if you are fed up of complaining, or you stopped voting for those reasons, you better wake up and realise you have been had, that representative democracy is not real democracy.

It is a great improvement over authoritarian or totalitarian regimes, but is not democracy. You have to start demanding, and forcefully, direct democracy. But make sure you demand Swiss style democracy, not California style democracy, they are very different.

Victor Lopez