...there is one country that does more than any other to embody popular sovereignty within a multi-ethnic, multilingual and multi-confessional
In this alpine republic with just seven million people, citizens' law-making is exercised on all political levels - including almost 3,000 autonomous
municipalities, 26 sovereign states and on the common, federal level.
While it embraces direct democracy, Switzerland is nevertheless still a representative democracy. Most laws are made and decided by parliament. The
important difference, however, between the Swiss system and the "indirect" democracy of Britain is that citizens are entitled to put almost every
law decided by their representatives to a general vote - if they want.
For this to happen, members of the public need to gather 50,000 signatures (approximately one per cent of the electorate) within 100 days of the
publication of a new law. In 96 out of 100 cases, no such referendum is triggered, because the parliamentary process enjoys a very high level of
legitimacy. That is because the elected lawmakers know that their work will be seriously checked by the public, so do a very good job
Compared to purely representative democratic systems, direct democracy (or ‘pure democracy’) fundamentally alters the communication among citizens
and also between citizens and their elected representatives.
People are incentivised to become better informed on issues affecting them because what they think matters and has influence. The better informed
citizenry give the politicians far less leeway to pursue personal interests.....and happy side effects, certainly in Switzerland’s case, include
lower public expenditure, lower public debt, and lower tax evasion because people feel more responsible for their community.
With the result that...
Switzerland has emerged as the country with the highest quality of living in a survey designed to help governments and multinational companies
place employees on international assignments.
This is a tried and tested system with impressive results. Is there any good reason why such a system couldn’t be implemented in the UK? I honestly
can’t think of one. I can come up with plenty of good reasons why we should tho’.
1. We have a successful system of direct democracy to emulate.
2. They have among the highest standards of living on the planet compared to the UK’s current ranking of 28th.
3. Apart from the implementation of a framework to facilitate direct democracy the present system would not require to be dismantled overnight.
4. Direct democracy would affect change organically per the will of the people.
5. Lessen, if not eliminate, the requirement for political parties and their rhetoric.
6. It is government of the people, by the people for
7. The UK’s political elite need a wakeup call – whether they be in power or not.
8. It would reinvigorate our democracy and liven up political debate.
9. It raises issues elites want to suppress.
10. It provides a simple route to repeal bad legislation.
11. It enables new ideas.
12. It restores representative government to a point where parliamentary members do
actually represent the will of the people.