Direct Democracy – the Swiss Experience Cover Image

Izravna demokracija: Švicarsko iskustvo
Direct Democracy – the Swiss Experience

Author(s): Hanspeter Kriesi
Subject(s): Politics / Political Sciences
Published by: Hrvatsko politološko društvo
Keywords: direct democracy; direct democracy in Switzerland; compulsory referendum; optional referendum; popular initiative; success of direct-democratic instruments

Summary/Abstract: The paper begins by listing the views of advocates and opponents of representative democracy on the positive and negative points of direct democracy. In this light, the author seeks to examine the experience with the implementation of direct democracy in Switzerland, the only country in which politics on all levels – including the national level – has been decisively shaped by direct democratic institutions. The paper first outlines the direct democratic institutions, and then describes the performance of this form of democracy in Switzerland. Afterwards, the paper turns to an analysis on how the direct democratic institutions shape the citizens’ views and choices. Suggesting that political elites are subjects of determining the options for citizens to vote on, the author wonders if citizens are capable of using the information presented to them by the elites in a proper way and of reaching decisions which reflect their own preferences. Drawing on his earlier research, the author concludes that citizens who actually vote are more competent than the entire constituency. In the final section of the paper, the author addresses the question if direct democracy is good for the economy and for personal situations of the citizens. Referring to the work by economists, he concludes that the institutions of direct democracy have largely positive effects on the economy.

  • Issue Year: 2007
  • Issue No: 04
  • Page Range: 43-58
  • Page Count: 16
  • Language: Croatian