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Is there such a thing as too much direct democracy?

Conservative isolationists want to make voters have the final say on every “important international treaty”, defying the government and parliament. But is this taking the democratic process too far?

This content was published on June 7, 2012 - 11:00

Billed as an initiative to boost direct democracy, the Campaign for an Independent and Neutral Switzerland group argues ordinary citizens have a better sense of foreign policy than the political elite and the business community.

Opponents say the initiative, which goes to a nationwide ballot on June 17, creates an unwieldy system, damaging Switzerland’s reputation as a predictable partner at the negotiating table and jeopardising the competitive edge of the country’s economy which has to be able to rely on legal certainty.

Most political parties, not only on the left but also in the political centre, argue the proposal by the isolationists risks undermining Switzerland’s cooperation on the international scene and puts an unduly heavy burden on the system of direct democracy. Voters would be called up around 500 times a year to decide on a host of highly technical and uncontroversial issues.

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