Swiss politics for dummies. (Politics).Switzerland's political landscape is distinguished by its uniqueness, complexity and, most of all, its tradition. Direct democracy rules, allowing the people and not politicians alone to play a distinctive role in plotting the course of Swiss politics in turbulent times. Here are the ABCs of the Swiss political system.
The political process by which a proposed legislation is created, deliberated and even berated on the way to presentation to the Swiss parliament for review and enactment into law paints a puzzling picture for the average citizen and, at times, even for the political players. Moreover, depending on the issue at hand -- for instance, the revision of drug laws, the restructuring restructuring - The transformation from one representation form to another at the same relative abstraction level, while preserving the subject system's external behaviour (functionality and semantics). of the tourism industry, or the federal statute governing human embryo embryo (ĕm`brēō), name for the developing young of an animal or plant. In its widest definition, the embryo is the young from the moment of fertilization until it has become structurally complete and able to survive as a separate organism. research, among others--this political consultation process could take the straight-and-narrow path or the long-and-winding road.
The legislative procedure can be triggered by either the people, the cantons, the federal Council, or the Federal Assembly itself. Once the draft bills are proposed and presented, they become the focus of thorough deliberations. Certain draft legislations appear to have political legs of their own, marching through parliamentary review with minimal resistance, while other bills often spark fiery debates among the various parties, getting "hung up" in the Federal Assembly. Some popular initiatives that are currently running the maze maze, detail of landscape gardening based on the Greek labyrinth, consisting of intricate paths or alleys lined with high hedges and having a center and exit difficult to find. It was a prominent feature in the formal English gardens of the 17th and 18th cent. of parliamentary deliberations include initiative for better animal rights, the gold initiative, the nuclear-free energy initiative and the automobile-free-Sunday initiative.
In essence, the political process in Switzerland is largely shaped by a flurry Flurry
A drastic volume increase in a specific security. of debate-both public and private, sometimes dogmatic dog·mat·ic
1. Relating to, characteristic of, or resulting from dogma.
2. Characterized by an authoritative, arrogant assertion of unproved or unprovable principles. See Synonyms at dictatorial. and often lively, involving any and all interested parties, cantons, governmental bodies and the body of citizens. (However, between 1991 and 1995, the federal government had already initiated the vast majority of legislation in Switzerland by submitting roughly 95 per cent of all draft bills to parliament.)
The Political Players
Switzerland has its Federal Council comprising a close-knit group of seven politicians. The Council oversees Switzerland's political system. It submits proposals for amending laws, awards public contracts, elects government officials and supervises their activities, and ensures that the cantons conform to Verb 1. conform to - satisfy a condition or restriction; "Does this paper meet the requirements for the degree?"
coordinate - be co-ordinated; "These activities coordinate well" federal laws.
Members of the Federal Council are elected every four years by the Federal Assembly (meeting of both houses) in separate ballots. Noteworthy is that the election of incumbents does not usually present any problems. In the last hundred years, no member of the Federal Council has ever been voted out of office against his will.
The Swiss Federal Assembly is organized into a two-house system similar to that in the U.S. The National Council, comprising 200 members (one seat per 35,000 residents, and at least one member from each canton Canton, cities, United States
1 City (1990 pop. 13,922), Fulton co., W central Ill., in the corn belt; inc. 1849. It is a trade and industrial center for a coal and farm area.
2 Town (1990 pop. 18,530), Norfolk co. ) represents the people, while the Council of States (consisting of 46 members, two from each canton) represents the cantons. Both houses are responsible for creating and passing laws, but the Swiss have the final word through the power of referendum.
People and Referendums
No other country in the world bestows upon its citizens the right to co-determine its political destiny like Switzerland. And compared with other European countries, Switzerland not only holds more referendums more frequently, but also gives the populace a greater voice in shaping the issues that are laid out on the political table.
Indeed, the Swiss have an array of opportunities at their disposal for oiling the political machinery. But the maze of Swiss ballots, petitions, initiatives and referendums is often hard to follow. Basically, every citizen is empowered to initiate an amendment to the constitution, propose new laws New Laws: see Las Casas, Bartolomé de. or challenge administrative procedures simply by gathering 100,000 signatures from likeminded voters within 18 months. This initiative can then only be passed by means of a referendum, requiring thumbs-up by the majority of both the populace and 26 cantons. Furthermore, these initiatives can only be born and raised by the people--what the Swiss call the epitome of direct democracy.
Referendums are either mandatory or optional. Optional referendums provide the people with veto power over most federal laws and some treaties, as well as parliamentary actions. At least 50,000 citizens must sign up within 100 days of decree. Mandatory referendums are carried out for popular initiatives on amending the constitution and issues such as UN membership and "Yes to Europe." In addition, any citizen with any opinion to voice is entitled en·ti·tle
tr.v. en·ti·tled, en·ti·tling, en·ti·tles
1. To give a name or title to.
2. To furnish with a right or claim to something: to express that view in the form of a petition, which is presented to the government for consideration and, almost always, receives a response.
According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. data compiled by the Swiss Federal Statistical Department (as of 2001), of the 4,712,223 registered voters in the country, roughly half take their politics seriously and vote.
Informal Aspects of the Swiss Political System
The Federal Council is elected according to a so-called magic formula established in 1959. The magic formula is an unwritten LAW, UNWRITTEN, or lex non scripta. All the laws which do not come under the definition of written law; it is composed, principally, of the law of nature, the law of nations, the common law, and customs. and unofficial un·of·fi·cial
Of or being a drug that is not listed in the United States Pharmacopeia or the National Formulary. balance-of-power arrangement not defined in the Swiss Constitution. According to this formula, each party is represented in the Federal Council based on the the number of seats it holds in the lower house of parliament (National Council).
Political concordance concordance /con·cor·dance/ (-kord´ins) in genetics, the occurrence of a given trait in both members of a twin pair.concor´dant
n. is one of the most important features of Swiss politics and a central element of consensus democracy. In many cases, majority rule ignores the wishes of the minority, whereas consensus democracy aims at involving as many people as possible in the decision-making process.
The Politics of Tradition
Through out its 711-year history, one aspect of Swiss politics has endured; tradition. In this regard, two dates stand out as the most significant time markers. In 1291, men of three mountain valleys swore swore
Past tense of swear.
the past tense of swear
swore, sworn swear allegiance--the so-called Reutli Oath--affirming their commitment to co-existence, cooperation and co-determination. The political system in its current form did not take shape until 1848, when a new constitution emerged, ushering in Noun 1. ushering in - the introduction of something new; "it signalled the ushering in of a new era"
first appearance, introduction, debut, entry, launching, unveiling - the act of beginning something new; "they looked forward to the debut of their new product line" principles of staunch federalism federalism.
1 In political science, see federal government.
2 In U.S. history, see states' rights.
Political system that binds a group of states into a larger, noncentralized, superior state while allowing them and direct democracy that have never been seriously challenged.
The year 2002 also represents a sea change in Swiss politics, finally marking the nation's membership in the United Nations Organization.
Indeed, some say Switzerland has reached a political crossroads, while others contend that the country will always be regarded as an island of direct democracy in often-turbulent waters.