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Appenzell celebrates democracy - Swiss style

(Keystone Archive)

This weekend the people of canton Appenzell are holding their regular exercise in that uniquely Swiss tradition - direct democracy.

Citizens of the half canton Appenzell Inner Rhoden in eastern Switzerland are taking part in an open-air vote on local issues and to elect the local authorities. The "Landsgemeinde" dates back to the 14th century, and Appenzell Inner Rhoden is - along with Glarus - the last canton in the country to uphold the tradition.

The vote is always held on the last Sunday in April.

As part of the tradition, the men wear swords, which once signified their right to vote. Women gained the vote on cantonal issues only 11 years ago.

The annual event is a festive occasion. Flags of each community are hung on the main street of the cantonal capital, also called Appenzell.

Voting day begins with a church service and is followed with a colourful procession led by flag bearers and a brass band to the square, "Landsgemeindeplatz", where the voting will take place.

Lausanne's brass bands

While most Swiss towns and cities wound up their carnival celebrations weeks ago, Lausanne's is just about to get underway.

The streets of the city on Lake Geneva will be taken over for three days from this Friday by costumed brass bands, parades and confetti wars.

More than 30 groups will take part in the main parade which begins at 2.30pm on Sunday.



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