We had it, we lost it – Is it time to put it back in the Irish Constitution?
ThePlatform.ie – Ireland’s Solutions Resource
Read below on its importance in the Swiss Direct Democracy system & the campaign in Ireland.
Excerpt from article by AceProject.org
Impact of direct democracy in Switzerland:
Undoubtedly, direct democracy has played a key role in shaping the modern Swiss political system. Yet it is important to question the actual impact of direct democracy on the legislative issues that, in other countries, are the responsibility of elected representatives.On one reading, it could be argued that the impact has been limited: in the first century of using the initiative (1891-2004), just 14 initiatives were passed in Switzerland. Yet to consider this statistic alone ignores the considerable, indirect impact of direct democracy.
On one reading, it could be argued that the impact has been limited: in the first century of using the initiative (1891-2004), just 14 initiatives were passed in Switzerland. Yet to consider this statistic alone ignores the considerable, indirect impact of direct democracy.
Although the majority of initiatives fail, the fact that there has been an initiative, and therefore a campaign, increases publicity surrounding the issue in question and public knowledge of it. This may well increase pressure on the government to introduce measures dealing with the issue, even if it is not required to by virtue of a successful referendum.
An initiative might therefore be successful in achieving some of its proponents’ aims, even if it is not successful in the sense of having passed. This trend explains why many initiatives are filed but subsequently withdrawn; because sometimes a government chooses to act before an initiative reaches the referendum stage.
A further impact of the direct democracy mechanisms within Switzerland is that the government is forced to seek a wider consensus about the statutory (and constitutional) measures that it seeks to introduce than is the case in a purely representative system.
In a representative system, the party of government may, in the absence of a large majority, have to develop cross-party consensus on an issue in order to ensure that the measure is approved.
In the Swiss system, the possibility of an optional referendum forces the government to ensure consensus with groups outside of Parliament so as to prevent the possibility of such groups seeking to overturn the new legislation.
Conversely, the significance of direct democracy in the Swiss system is often cited as the reason for the weakness of Swiss political parties and the relatively low significance attached to normal elections. This is because, given the prominence of direct democracy, political parties are not solely responsible for controlling the federal agenda. In addition, direct democracy often raises cross-cutting issues on which members of political parties might not be in agreement.
The Campaign in Ireland:
The Campaign to reinstate revised versions of Articles 47 & 48 of the 1922 Constitution in Ireland is spearheaded by the 1YI campaign.
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