Gagging for a vote…

We went for dinner with fellow expat/friends at the weekend and in the course of the conversation we got onto politics, equality and such matters. I generally avoid these topics like a very bad case of the plague but I was amazed at the facts, some of which I knew and others that amazed me (Note to self; stop using “amazed”)

Firstly I’ll give you the sciencey bit. In Switzerland they exercise “Direct Democracy” which essentially means that the populace can challenge any law. If you can get 50,000 signatures in 100 days backing your campaign a referendum has to be called. Switzerland is the only country in the world to employ this system. It keeps everyone on their toes. A few years back one campaign against genetically engineered organisms gained a big following. If it had gone through the country would have been crippled as the pharmaceutical industry would have had to shut down.

There are four main parties, one left, one right and two leaning to the centre if that’s possible. The right wing party, the SVP has just challenged a law about foreign nationals commiting crimes on Swiss soil. If for instance I decide to go on a killing spree I can be jailed here, then kicked out and refused entry back into the country again. The proposed change includes, among other things, removing my family from the country as well! The funny thing is, the leader of this party is also the Justice minister!

That gives you a flavour of whats happening here but I’m sure I’ll be back to this topic in the future when I understand more about it. But one more interesting fact from our dinner the other night was to do with equal rights. Women won the right to vote in Federal elections here in 1971! Only 36 years ago! Amazing stuff and the country only ratified an equal rights bill in 1981! I’m suprised they got away with it for that long!


2 responses to “Gagging for a vote…

  1. In the green isle it takes 150,000 signatures… but sure we’ll sign anything!!

  2. You must not have had many feminist groups back then.. Lucky you.
    They’re crazy sometimes, really.

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