Swiss Democracy

The single shining, honourable example and the nearest thing we have to a true national democracy - to date - is Switzerland. It is also a splendid example of how Democracy does not necessarily equate with "progressive" or "liberal" values or Political Correctness. Switzerland was one of the last West European states to allow Women the Vote (1971). Why? Because, for many years, the proposal to extend suffrage to Women couldn't attract enough support to force a referendum. and when Parliament put it to the People, in a 1959 referendum on their proposed Constitutional Amendment, it was democratically defeated. It took another 12 years of internal and international pressure before the Swiss bastion of patriarchy finally joined the 20th century and voted to let Women vote.

Of course, this also demonstrates the biggest failing - till Women finally won the Vote - in the Swiss model. It wasn't that they were capable of voting for regressive policies (The Swiss are an innately conservative folk and they've carried on voting conservatively even after their Women were included in the ballot) it was that they had failed to define the "We" in "We the People" widely enough. Hence our argument that "We" consists of all those who believe they understand the question and believe their interests are affected by the outcome. No age limits, no sex limits, no intelligence limits, no property qualifications, no residential requirements. If you understand the question and feel that you will be affected by the outcome, you are entitled to Vote. Period.

Meanwhile, for an excellent and well-balanced presentation of the "Direct Democracy" options, with an emphasis on the Swiss example, read this. Though written for a Canadian audience, its relevance is Global. Note, in passing, though, how the author cannot bring himself to confront the obvious truth - that, with the possible exception of Switzerland, none of the other countries, including his own Canada, are democracies. He distinguishes between Swiss style government and standard authoritarian government by describing the former as "Direct Democracy" and the others merely as "Democracies". This is best exemplified by the following extract:

"Only the U.S.A. and the Netherlands, among countries that have been democracies since before 1900, have never held a nation-wide referendum."

To which we can only add, if they've never had a referendum, then they've never been democracies at all.

No, we must add one further comment, which is that, in truth, the situation is even worse. Large parts of the United States do practise an inherently democratic procedure with their "initiatives"(which become "propositions" or referendums ). However, when the Federal Government doesn't like the outcome of these local democratic decisions, it shows not the slightest regard for democracy and does everything in its power to ignore, override or reverse the decision. This is most clearly and recently seen in the Federal reaction to various States local votes in favour of permitting the use of Marijuana for medicinal purposes. The Federal reaction continues to be as brutal and undemocratic as many other dictatorships.

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