Re: Political Reform


Alan, it’s nice to see that someone is trying to get a debate started in this area. I read your blog and it was interesting to see your proposals. I wonder if you have thought about a more direct system of government similar to that used by the Swiss though? Such a system moves the centre of power away from political parties and gives it back to the people. Here is a brief resumé of the direct vote system (courtesy of Wikipaedia)

Amendments of the Federal Constitution of Switzerland, the joining of international organizations or changes to federal laws that have no foundation in the constitution but if in force for more than one year must be approved by the majority of both the people and the cantons (the local councils), a double majority.

Any citizen may challenge a law that has been passed by parliament. If that person is able to gather 50,000 signatures against the law within 100 days, a national vote has to be scheduled where voters decide by a simple majority of the voters whether to accept or reject the law.
Also, any citizen may seek a decision on an amendment they want to make to the constitution. For such an amendment initiative to be organised, the signatures of 100,000 voters must be collected within 18 months. Such a popular initiative is formulated as a precise new text (general proposal initiatives have been canceled in 2009) whose wording can no longer be changed by parliament and the government. After a successful signature gathering, the federal council may create a counterproposal to the proposed amendment and put it to vote on the same day as the original proposal. Such counter-proposals are usually a compromise between the status quo and the wording of the initiative. Voters will decide in a national vote whether to accept the initiative amendment, the counter proposal put forward by the government if any, or both. If both are accepted, one has to additionally signal a preference. Initiatives (that are of constitutional level) have to be accepted by a double majority of both the popular votes and a majority of the cantons, while counter-proposals may be of legislative level and hence require only simple majority.

I believe that incorporating this into your ideas while slimming down further some of the layers of representation suggested in your excellent blog could lead to efficient, more representative government.