Canada should introduce a voting system similar to the Swiss method, says Michael Valente from Toronto.
The 17-year old Canadian-Swiss is a fresh voice of the Swiss Abroad community. swissinfo.ch presents a series a profiles of leading members of the newly-founded online youth parliament.
swissinfo.ch: What do you want to achieve as a member of the new youth parliament of the Swiss abroad – first of all in Switzerland, and second in your country of residence?
Michael Valente: As a Canadian born Swiss, I’d like to contribute to a better understanding of intercultural diversity, ideas and practices of both countries.
swissinfo.ch: What does direct democracy look like in your country of residence? Are there options that you especially appreciate? And ones that you miss having?
M.V.: Canada is a constitutional monarchy, in which the Monarch is head of state. The politics of Canada function within a framework of parliamentary democracy and a federal system of parliamentary government with strong democratic traditions.
I believe Canada could benefit from a fairer voting system for parliamentary elections, where the share of seats held by each political party closely reflects the popular vote.
swissinfo.ch: In most countries, young people vote less often than people of other age groups. Isn’t direct democracy a prime agent for young people to communicate their political needs and ideas?
M.V.: Many countries have a dominant two-party system, leftwing and rightwing parties and therefore it is still the same ‘bird’. And not much change is offered to the young people of those countries.
I think a voting system like in Switzerland would attract more people to participate in the democratic process.
swissinfo.ch: Since the attacks in Paris, Europe has been obsessed with the terrorism of the Islamic State group. Is the fight against Islamic extremists, which has led to the restriction of individual freedoms, a danger for democracies?
M.V.: Any form of terrorism and war is a threat to our freedoms and democracy.
History tells us that the use of violence causes more violence and only mutual consideration and respect for diversity can resolve conflicts peacefully.
Platform for young Swiss expats
The youth parliament of the Swiss Abroad was set up only a few months ago and is still in its infancy.
It’s primarily an online platform which brings together the about 350 members across the world for debates and other exchanges of ideas via social media and skype.
swissinfo.ch interviewed 11 young Swiss expatriates who are leading members of the youth parliament. Our questions focus on issues of participatory citizenship in their countries of residence and in Switzerland.