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Swiss MP urges Europe-wide citizens’ initiatives

Swiss Social Democrat parliamentarian Andreas Gross at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg in April 2013.
Social Democrat parliamentarian Andreas Gross took part at gathering in April 2013 to celebrate Switzerland's 50-year anniversary as a member of the Council of Europe Keystone

Social Democrat parliamentarian Andreas Gross, a well-known Swiss pacifist leader, says Europe needs stronger local participation. He calls for continent-wide citizens’ initiatives as part of a true commitment to direct democracy.

The centre-left parliamentarian, who is a major supporter but also a critic of the European Union, told the Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaperExternal link on July 8 that the “body representing 500 million people must not only be strengthened but above all become more democratic”.

In the long NZZ article he took a swipe at EU critics who fervently defend principles of national sovereignty: “Saying no to Europe doesn’t strengthen direct democracy”.

Gross, who co-founded the pacifist group Switzerland without an Army (GSoA), made his name in November 1989 when the radical GSoA initiative to abolish the Swiss army narrowly failed but gained wide support  in certain regions.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR