After the vote The seven best quotes on direct democracy

Edward Snowden is impressed by direct democracy in Switzerland

Edward Snowden is impressed by direct democracy in Switzerland


The American whistleblower Edward Snowden, Swiss justice minister Simonetta Sommaruga, her German counterpart Heiko Maas: they were just some of the people who had something to say about Swiss direct democracy after Sunday's clear 'no' vote on the enforcement of the deportation of foreign criminals initiative, proposed by the conservative right Swiss People's Party.

Here is our selection of the seven best quotes on the vote:

Edward Snowden spent time working in Geneva between 2007 to 2009, undercover for the Central Intelligence Agency. He compares two images connected to the enforcement campaign in Switzerland. the image on the left reads in French: "for more security". 

"The electorate has made a statement, that even in a direct democracy no one is allowed to be all-powerful, not even the voter. The voters have decided that they do not also want to take on the role of the court and parliament. That’s a sign of maturity and a democratic majority."

Simonetta Sommaruga, Swiss justice minister

“The existence of common values is being frivolously called into question through the crescendo of initiatives with ever more wide-reaching demands. Once again it did however work out well. As for a solution to this challenge – direct democracy hasn’t found one yet.” 

Eric Guyer, Editor-in-Chief, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

“Switzerland has treated itself to a bottle of oxygen. But in the long run it's weakened by the practice of Russian roulette. Direct democracy offers up too many chances for populists to make the country tremble.” 

François Cherix, co-president of European Movement Switzerland

"We certainly witnessed a great moment for the engaged middle class yesterday (and only in a limited way one for direct democracy). But let us not exclude that this moment of glory turns out to be just that – merely a moment."

Nordwestschweiz, Swiss newspaper

"The Swiss have shown spectacularly that there is a difference between what is said at the local pub, and the opinion of the people.”

Heiko Maas, German justice minister

"After an unprecedented-on-this-scale, single-sided campaign for votes on the part of the media, judges, professors, subsidised people in the cultural sector and the political class, the Swiss People’s Party is looking forward to a return to the strengths of direct democracy and the self-determination of Switzerland." 

Swiss People’s Party, official position statement on the defeat of their initiative

Translated from the German by Jo Fahy,