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Swiss politics and political institutions: 4. Direct Democracy Prof. Dr. Andreas Ladner iMPA 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "Swiss politics and political institutions: 4. Direct Democracy Prof. Dr. Andreas Ladner iMPA 2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 Swiss politics and political institutions: 4. Direct Democracy Prof. Dr. Andreas Ladner iMPA 2011

2 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | Module 1 1.Society and History 2.Federalism and Municipalities 3.Government and Parliament 4.Direct Democracy 5.Party system and Parties 6.What about the citizens? 7.BADAC – Cantons (Dr. Christophe Koller)

3 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | Type 1 Direct Democracy = Assembly Democracy AI GL

4 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | Type 2 Direct Democracy: referendums and initiatives

5 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | „Switzerland is virtually the only country in the world where the people have such extensive decision- making powers. The longstanding democratic tradition, but also the comparatively small size of the population and the country, as well as a high literacy rate and sophisticated media services are crucial to the operation of this particular system of government.”

6 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | Referendums and initiatives Amendments to the constitution -> mandatory referendum Amendments to legislation -> optional referendum Requests to change the constitution -> initiative

7 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | Those in favour of direct democracy...  … distrust the idea of parliaments and political representation  … believe that the citizens are sensible and reasonable (sovereignty of the people )

8 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | Sovereignty of the people Direct democracy is based on the spirit of the people’s sovereignty and the ideal of self- government we can also find in the readings of Rousseau. He was against any transfer of sovereignty to the state, rulers or representatives.

9 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | Direct democracy is not about asking the citizens’ opinion but about binding political decisions  Parliamentary democracies use plebiscites to legitimize their policies.  Initiatives and referendums are binding political decisions.

10 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | From a representative democracy to a semi-direct democracy  The Constitution of 1848 only contained the mandatory referendum for a revision of the Constitution and the right of the initiative for a total revision of the Constitution.  The option referendum in matters of legislations approved by the Federal Assembly was introduced in 1874 in order to pass the revised Constitution which called for more centralization.  The right to make partial amendments of the Constitution was introduced in 1891.

11 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | A steady increase of direct democratic rights  1921: Optional referendum for international treaties  1949: Mandatory referendum for urgent unconstitutional laws and optional referendum for urgent constitutional laws applicabel for more than one year  1977: Mandatory referendum in the case of Switzerland joining an international organization for collective security or a supranational community.  2003: Popular general initiative and extension of the referendum for international treaties

12 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | Declined increases of direct democracy  1956: Referendum against concessions for water use  1956: Referendum against planned expenditures  1963: Referendum against nuclear weapons  1872, 1961: Initiative in matters of legislation  1978: Referendum against the construction of motorways  1987: Referendum against expenditures for the army

13 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | Referendums The referendum is similar to a veto and has the effect of delaying and safeguarding the political process by blocking amendments adopted by parliament or the government or delaying their effect – the referendum is therefore often described as a brake applied by the People.

14 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | Referendums  In most cases, a referendum is only called if those who feel strongly about the issue manage to collect enough signatures.  However, the authorities are obliged to hold a referendum if the legislation involves an amendment to the constitution initiated by the government, or any proposal for Switzerland to sign a major international agreement which cannot be rescinded.

15 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | Functions and consequences of the referendum  Veto against the decisions of the political elite  Fosters compromises  Influences the development of the state

16 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | Initiatives

17 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | Initiatives  Initiatives have been held recently on matters such as cutting military spending (rejected) and limiting the foreign population to 18% (rejected).  More "exotic" initiatives have included making it easier to open casinos (accepted), protecting marshland (accepted) and banning the production and sale of absinthe (accepted). The first initiative under the current system, put to the vote in 1893, called for a ban on the Jewish method of slaughtering of animals without stunning them first. It was accepted, against the advice of parliament.

18 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | Functions and consequences of the initiative  Makes the political system more open, more « responsive »  Any political group may influence the political agenda  The political elite gets confronted with problems  Safety valve

19 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | Success rates 1848 – – – 2011 (Feb.) Total Total * Accepted Declined

20 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 |

21 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | Success and impact of initiatives  The vast majority of initiatives achieved less than 50% votes in favour and were rejected.  Most of these initiatives are not, however, entirely ineffective. The concerns they address often give rise to broad debate and are eventually translated, at least partially, into new laws.

22 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | 1848 – – – 2011 (Feb.) Total Initiatives (initiatives with counterproposal included) Accepted Declined Accepted % Counterproposals to initiatives Accepted24 6 Declined14510

23 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 |

24 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | Some important decisions regarding foreign affairs  December 6, 1992: Switzerland refuses to join the European Economic Area Citizens yes: 49.7%; Cantons yes: 6 2/2 yes; turnout: 78.7% March 3, 2002: Switzerland joins the United Nations (first vote on March 16, 1986, “no”)  Citizens yes: 54.6%; Cantons yes: 11 2/2 yes; turnout: 58.4%

25 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | Some particular issues (national level):

26 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | The Ahmadiyya mosque in Zürich (built 1963), the oldest Swiss mosque with a minaretAhmadiyya Zürich Minaret at the mosque of the local Turkish cultural association in Wangen bei Olten, the initial motivation for the popular initiative.Wangen bei Olten

27 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 |

28 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | „The anti-minaret initiative“ The minaret controversy in Switzerland refers to construction of minarets, which has been subject to legal and political controversy in Switzerland during the 2000s and a Swiss referendum regarding this issue.minaretsSwitzerland In a November 2009 referendum, a constitutional amendment banning the construction of new minarets was approved by 57.5% of the participating voters. [1] Only four of the 26 Swiss cantons, [2] mostly in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, opposed the initiative. (wikipedia)November 2009 referendum [1]Swiss cantons [2]French-speaking part of Switzerland

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30 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | “The ban on new minarets may be put to the test in the case of a pending project of building a minaret for a mosque in Langenthal, canton of Berne. The Islamic community of Langenthal has announced their intention of taking their case to the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland and if necessary further to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.” (wikipedia)Langenthalcanton of BerneFederal Supreme Court of SwitzerlandEuropean Court of Human RightsStrasbourg

31 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | December 6, 1992: Switzerland refuses to join the European Economic Area

32 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | March 3, 2002: Switzerland joins the United Nations

33 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | „Initiative to send back criminal foreigners“

34 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | „Pay when you use the motorway“ (accepted)

35 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | „Initiative to protect the alps from traffic“ (accepted)

36 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | The links between Direct Democracy and Consensus Democracy!

37 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | From a seven members one party government to a multi- party government (The “Joseph Zemp story”) Joseph Zemp, Entlebuch (LU) (1834 – 1908)

38 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | 1887: Zemp was the first conservative elected president of the National Council. When he was elected member of the Federal Council in 1891, he received 129 of 183 votes

39 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | Steps towards consensus : Joseph Zemp (CVP, Catholic-Conservatives) : Jean-Marie Musy (CVP, Catholic-Conservatives) : Rudolf Minger (SVP, Swiss People‘s Party) : Ernst Nobs (SP, Social Democrats) : Hans-Peter Tschudi (SP, Social Democrats) and Willy Spühler (SP, Social Democrats) : The magic formula (2 Liberals, 2 Christian Democrats, 2 Social Democrats, 1 Swiss People‘s Party) : On the search for a new equilibrium (2 Radicals, 1 Christian Democrats, 2 Social Democrats, 2(1) Swiss People‘s Party)

40 | ©IDHEAP – | | 27/04/2015 | Direct Democracy and the Consultation Process In Switzerland, laws are created in four steps: –Draft by the administration –Consultation of federal states, political parties, entrepreneurs, unions and other interested groups –Parliamentary debate and final version passed –Possibility of a referendum The formal (institutionalised) consultation results in comments, demands for modifications and even alternate propositions. Normally they are made public so that the electorate is informed what is going on and what the pros and cons of the new law are. If a strong party or lobby threatens to call for a referendum in a later stage if their demands are not met, a new law may be completely reworked by the administration after the consultation.


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