The US elections, Brexit, populism, nationalism, authoritarian leaders – while some see 2016 as the end of democracies as we know them, others say the results of popular votes reflect the true will of the people, going against the elites.
But what is clear: 2016 has been by far the most turbulent year for democracy since the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
Election wins, vote defeats, demonstrations and angry protests. Democracies produce winners and losers – and, what is even more important, regular votes allow citizens to let off steam.
Swiss voters were “spoiled” in terms of direct democracy in 2016. They went to the polls four times on a national level, voting on people’s initiatives, changes to the constitution or on new laws. For the British, however, their ballot on whether to stay in the European Union was their first in 40 years.
But the political debates have two sides. It is customary to have a tough but fair democratic debate, while remaining respectful. But this year the borders have shifted dramatically. Personal attacks, even severe ones, on opponents are becoming more common. This can be witnessed in our gallery of the political year 2016.
(Text: Renat Künzi, swissinfo.ch)