Towards more direct democracy… national referendums for controversial legislation

In studying various democracies throughout the world, I’m struck by one in particular, which is Switzerland. The Swiss democracy is a hybrid of direct and representative democracy.

Any legislation passed at a national level can be brought to a referendum shortly after it’s passing by circulating a petition and gaining a sufficient number of signatures. That legislation is then put on hold, and goes to a public referendum where it needs a simple majority to either uphold it or reject it. In this manner, controversial matters end up going before a public vote, while keeping the advantages of a representative system.

This mechanism amounts to a “public veto”. Unpopular legislation has to pass not only the parliament or congress, but also the public – making it harder for bad laws to pass, and making it harder for politicians to be bought and sold.

 

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