I think this is great for the politics in Switzerland everyone from left to right is represented in the executive and you can‘t just blame the other party for the problems during their terms. This forces the parties to compromise and the opposition based on the issues and not only the party membership.
The Federal Council is also elected by the legislature, the Federal Assembly, with the precise composition negotiated through Parliamentary procedure. Every member of the Council has parties to answer to, more so than a directly elected individual with a mandate that can appeal directly to voters and have more popularity than the party backing them. As Swiss culture is far from monolithic, all Federal politics has to be conducted within a coalition. This is true in America as well, it’s just the coalitions are formed under the auspices of the political parties when they form their platforms, which is why it causes problems when you have a directly elected President that is more popular than the party that nominated him.
There’s a lot of lessons here for America, but we wouldn’t be able to transplant the Swiss system here without heavy modification. For example, almost the entirety of the referendum process described in the original article could have been a description of California’s ballot initiative process, with only minor differences in details and processes, and I would argue has been to the detriment of the State of California.
I am suspicious of all of California's policies, your opinions and the apparent link between direct democracy and material success (Switzerland and California both being synonymous with outrageous wealth).
If the US just tried direct democracy without heavy modification the complaints would be thunderously louder than they are now. No question. The oligarchs would be furious and the media would never shut up. What would actually happen on the ground is unclear.
It’s not hard to find people who follow along party lines 90+% of the time, and who support policies basically because they’re told that’s what they should support. It’d be incredibly easy to game.
One thing that stands in the way of people shooting themselves in the foot with bizarre, harmful policy is the sometimes decent court system. And people regularly get pissed at court decisions even if they rule in favor of betterment for the people.
It seems to me that this turns out to be a chicken-egg, self-fulfilling prophecy: places where people do not trust government often elect corrupt(able) people—perhaps those types are the only ones available.
Places where there are high levels of trust in government (Nordics) tend to have good government.
Not sure if there's some kind of 'loop' happening there in which countries can get stuck in, or how to break out of it.
It's also the case that if a party campaigns strongly one subject and win votes with that, its ministers will tend to get the ministries that allow them to implement their ideas. So if you're tough on security you might get the police, if you're a fiscal conservative you get finances. It's more complicated than that, but the longer they stay on the bigger the chance they end up where they want.
I'll assume you're American and are not familiar with them.
Coalitions are much less stable than 2 party systems, which is great. Political positions don't ossify and get turned into sports and people rooting for their camp.
Plus representation is in my opinion better since the big guys frequently have to accommodate the little guys just to get the majority.
Australia's political coalitions have been pretty stable despite instant run-off voting and not having any mention of political parties in the constitution.
Politicians just gravitated towards forming parties and coalescing those parties into two sides because it was effective to do so.
Coalitions plural? I'll echo the earlier sibling comment that LNP is effectively one party - a coalition by name only now, a marriage of sometime convenience.
Other coalitions are rare, to my memory, and I suspect the distinction between an ephemeral coalition and actual representative democracy is a bit fuzzy, if the end goal is to obtain compromise and consensus between multiple representatives with disparate opinions.
As to the AU constitution - it was penned at a time when the dangers of party politics, let alone two-party politics, were not as obvious. Remember, our constitution doesn't mention a role of Prime Minister either.
I'd be very happy to move towards a Swiss style approach here, or even just start with a triumvirate.
In recent years, there have been Labor-Greens and Labor-Nationals coalitions at a state/territory level, and of course the Gillard minority government federally, but they aren't stable - they last for as long as Labor can't form a majority government.
(Instant runoff voting doesn't necessarily tend towards formation of multi-party systems, it merely removes the risk of three-cornered contests that comes with FPTP (which is still a significant improvement for the chances of minor parties, obviously). The electoral system factors that really determine how multipartisan a political system is are whether you use proportional representation vs majoritarian (see Duverger's Law), and within PR systems, district magnitude. Proportional representation is the reason that in Australia you regularly see minority/coalition governments in the ACT and Tasmania but much more rarely elsewhere, and we see plenty of minor parties in upper houses rather than lower houses.)
This is a double edged sword. Saying “little guy” makes it sounds like it’s always a noble cause that doesn’t get enough attention. It can also be an openly racist party, or perhaps a wealthy special interest group that wants some special treatment.
The most recent election went from a hung parliament in coalition to delivering a huge majority to the new leader. The two party system had failed, but it fixed itself.
Also the UK isn't actually a two party system. There's the Conservatives and Labour, but also the SNP which is important, and the Lib Dems who used to be more important than they are now, and of course UKIP/Brexit Party who never won seats but proved highly effective at getting their desired political outcome by posing a credible threat as a third party.
First past the post means it is a de facto two party system. This is because people know that there is no point voting for a party that can’t win and in ~75% of constituencies there is a large enough majority that there is no point in voting at all unless you are supporting the incumbent. The only time that one of the main 2 parties was usurped by another was when the liberal party got us into a war that lead to decades of turmoil and killed vast numbers of people. I would rather that my vote could have some influence before things get that bad.
When looking at actual leaders, the UK has had highly stable government for decades. It may not feel like it because of the manic focus of the press on a tiny number of issues at any one time but Tony Blair, David Cameron and Boris Johnson are extremely comparable in general world and politics. If it weren't for the single divisive issue of the EU you'd struggle to tell their administrations apart. They're all middling elite/centrist types who aggressive optimise for voter preference via focus groups and polls, even outside of election time. They're all lacking in any clear vision for what to do or change, and thus delegate relentlessly to civil servants and assorted academics.
No-one cared about the EU until Cameron sprung the referendum on us, that referendum was entirely the result of back room shenanigans in an attempt to reduce the influence of UKIP
This statement is self-contradicting: the reason Cameron 'sprung' the referendum on the UK was exactly because UKIP was taking a lot of voters and was getting dangerously close to the threshold where it'd start denying the Tories seats. BTW it wasn't really sprung on people: in reality an EU referendum had been debated for years, in fact the Lib Dems had once been the primary party pushing for one. They called for an in/out referendum in 2007 for example, and the rise of UKIP showed that many people cared.
FPTP clearly can't mean always a two party system because otherwise the SNP would never have existed. Scotland would have remained Lab/Con forever.
It may appear to be very different to a coalition-oriented PR system on the surface, but it's not really in the end. You tend to get two parties because FPTP incentivises what are basically large coalitions posing as single parties. The Conservatives aren't really a single party, nor are Labour. That's why there are so many factions within them like the ERG on the right or Momentum and its offshoots on the left. They're uneasy coalitions of people who often don't agree on all that much, but who agree with each other more than the other side.
In PR systems these factions are much more prominent, but still have to assemble themselves into what are effectively make-shift political parties in order to form a functional government. It happens after the vote, rather than before it, which isn't actually better. It just means people have no idea what set of strange compromises they're actually going to get by casting a vote in any particular direction, because those compromises weren't made yet. It also tends to mean very long periods of suspended government whilst the different factions try to thrash out a coalition. This is why Belgium managed to go nearly two years without a functioning government.
In fact, the single party governments (plural, since during the 5 year fixed-term parliament following the coalition there were three prime ministers and two general elections) since have been _far less_ stable.
- Except on specific topics, the different parties don't actually agree on much. E.g. during the last cycle the center-right to right parties had the majority in parliament, but they barely got anything trough in four years
- Besides having the role of head of state being shared among 7 people, the federal government also has much less power compared to other countries. Most domestic things happen at a canton (state) and municipal level.
- Basically everything that the council decides, or parliament for that matter, can and often is challenged via popular referendums.
If you don't establish the coalitions trough the entire system they will be pretty much useless. Also because of direct democracy, I think political discourse more often centers around the issues being voted on, rather than the parties and coalitions.
That is what in my opinion is the strength of the Swiss political system. It is very hard for someone, be that a person or party to obtain enough power to really cause long lasting damage. The other side of this coin of course is, that any change will happen extremely slowly. Which can be both good and bad
America’s two main parties have changed over the years (remember the Whigs?), so the existence of a two-party system cannot be attributed purely to control exerted by the current two parties.
The US system wasn’t engineered with the possibility of coalitions and compromise governments in mind (at least not in the Executive).
If the US president was elected by the Congress would that end bipartidism? I don’t know.
When you have more than two you could end up in a minority government where a smaller parties decide issues by supporting a big party.
Provinces have had other parties become the government.
Clinton spent $1.2B in 2016 and Trump spent $680B. These are formidable sums for non-establishment parties. Bernie spent $230M in a primary.
To give a rough comparison, the UK limits spending per constituency, so the upper limit a party is allowed to spend in the UK is 19.5 GBP.
I was going to write a comment about how shocked I was that Trump outspending Clinton by a factor of 500 didn't see any media coverage, but it looks like that's supposed to be 680M.
I think this is not true.
> the upper limit a party is allowed to spend in the UK is 19.5 GBP
I'm pretty sure they spend more than that, as well.
> I'm pretty sure they spend more than that, as well.
As per the BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/election-2019-50170067
> In the 2017 general election, 75 parties and 18 campaign groups reported spending more than £41.6m between them. The Conservatives spent most at £18.6m. It fielded 638 candidates, winning in 317 constituencies. Labour came in at £11m and the Liberal Democrats at £6.8m.
The BBC figures are a million times larger than yours if you meant it as a total, and a hundred times smaller than yours if you meant it as per-capita.
BBC, same article:
> Political parties' spend is also capped at £30,000 for each constituency that it contests in a general election. So if a party stood a candidate in each of the 650 UK constituencies, its maximum spend would total £19.5m.
I'm not an expert but those numbers sound like total crap.
Surely you mean $680M?
Maybe tone doesn't come across well in written communication, but dismissing this as "clearly nonsense" without bothering to engage with the merit of the claim or, seemingly, even read the link seems disrespectful, to say the least.
Do you want to rephrase? :)
> In political science, Duverger's law holds that plurality-rule elections (such as first past the post) structured within single-member districts tend to favor a two-party system.... In the course of further research, other political scientists began calling the effect a "law" or principle.
(Emphasis, of course, added.)
The article goes on to note counterexamples, to drive home the point that this is not, as you say, like a law of physics.
Perhaps a more constructive phrasing you could have tried would be something like,
"As noted in the linked article, there are many counterexamples, so while as you say first-past-the-post may encourage two-party systems, it doesn't preclude more parties from existing."
This would have been a more polite phrasing, one that shows you read and comprehended both my comment and the article I linked to, and one that would not exhibit the logical fallacies your original comment does (to argue that the existence of counterexamples precludes any causal relationship between first-past-the-post and two-party systems).
Hope that helps. Have a nice rest of the weekend.
In the UK:
A small but national party was in government a few elections ago. They had multiple ministers and could influence the policy narrative.
In the previous government, the DUP, a tiny regional party had a big influence on major policies that mattered to them.
The SNP, a regional party, has wiped away the national parties and now has many seats in the national parliament, and was recently part of frustrating the main party from doing anything.
This is all possible, even with FPTP.
Imagine if a party like the Greens, or the SNP, or the LD, but in the US, controlled a few seats in the Senate or the House of Representatives - think how much power they'd become king-making between the two parties. They'd be able to insist on a couple of their key policies for the deal and be able to enact real changes.
"There are also cases where the principle appears to have an effect, but weakly...In the United Kingdom, the SDP–Liberal Alliance, and later Liberal Democrats, between the February 1974 and 2015 elections obtained 1–10% of seats forming a third party, albeit with significantly fewer seats. This share of seats is despite gathering around a fifth of votes consistently over the same time period.
In the UK there is no president and thus no unifying election to force party mergers and regional two-party systems are formed. This is because Duverger's law says that the number of viable parties is one plus the number of seats in a constituency."
Which ones do you have in mind? The one's I'm thinking of have two main parties, and then strictly regional parties which displace them entirely in their regions.
> So FPTP does not cause two-parties - that's clearly nonsense.
Many European countries with non-FPTP systems have coalition governments all the time and there really are several viable major parties.
To be fair, preferential voting isn't a panacea (and arguably should be paired with multiple-representative electorates). Here in Australia we have instant run-off voting and there are still two major parties with even less crossbenchers than the UK parliament -- though our Senate does have a fair few independent and third-party candidates, likely because Senate seats aren't winner-takes-all (like electorate seats are for the House of Representatives). I think voter education is also partially to blame -- many Australians seem to not be aware of how preferential voting works.
I disagree - it's about influencing the policy narrative. It doesn't matter if you have plurality or not if you are getting things done.
The LD, the SNP, and the DUP (a tiny tiny party) all managed that recently in the UK.
A small party with large support somewhere like California could become king-makers in the US, and influence police, nominations, etc.
So sure, Bernie might take away votes from the Democrats, but that doesn’t mean support will eventually shift to him.
1. The media would ignore him if he did. He wouldn't get to take part in any of the debates, and most people would have no idea he was even running.
2. It might not even be possible for him to get on the ballot in most states as a third-party candidate. Election laws make it nearly impossible for third parties to get on the ballot in many states. In the last 20 years, the Green Party has never managed to get on the ballot in more than 45 states. In 2004, they only managed to get on the ballot in half the states. The Democratic party fights tooth and nail to keep them off the ballot (just like the Republican party fights to keep the Libertarians off the ballot). Because almost all the local and state election officials and judges are Democrats and Republicans, the deck is stacked against third parties.
Finally, Sanders would be viewed as a spoiler, robbing votes from the Democratic party. Most people would feel like they would be throwing their votes away.
But aside from that most countries have a single process to get on the ballot country-wide. In US you'd have to navigate this process for each state.
I'm sure Bernie could pull that off. But it is definitely the reason you see many fewer randoms making a dent.
Also if you consider the way primaries work in both parties it's way more transparent and approachable than most other places. Many major parties around the world don't have a primary process at all. And even when they do it's usually limited to insiders. So if you want to change things you're almost forced to create a party by default.
If you couldn't make it in a primary of a party that's closer to your beliefs than the general population - how can you expect to make it on a national level?
It doesn't actually matter what the disease does after the summer holidays (an arbitrary point given virus lag times). It's not a dangerous disease. There is no justification for it even now, or even at the beginning, knowing what we know today.
Yeah i stop arguing with you, still all the best for your grandparent's.
The virus isn't dangerous. I understand this is hard to accept given what's happened but the data is uniform and consistent on that. Swiss excess mortality data shows nothing unusual even now the epidemic is over:
In fact Switzerland is now experiencing below average mortality, indicating that some of the people who died with COVID were at the end of their life and going to die in the next couple of months anyway.
Moreover about half of all deaths were in nursing homes, where lockdowns have no effect and certainly masks on ÖV have no effect
Your response is sadly typical of too many people now: running from data, from the truth, and claiming anyone who tells you what really happened must hate their own grandparents. Sorry but it's a shocking and dirty tactic.
But there are huge differences:
1. Concealed and unconcealed carrying is not allowed. You have to transport your weapon in a very specific way, without ammo etc. Also anyone with a gun in public would trigger a police intervention within minutes.
2. Active military personnel are allowed to stored their gun at home, but almost nobody does that. Those who do get 5 bullets, in a sealed box. They're not allowed to open it, except in war. The seal gets checked every time you go back for service.
3. Storage of legal weapons at home is very strictly regulated. Loaded guns are basically forbidden, ammunition has to be stored separately etc.
4. If you don't have a very clean history, it's almost impossible to get the right to buy guns.
5. Automatic weapons are illegal.
PS: Those "facts" are from my memory, as I don't live in Switzerland anymore. Fellow Swiss users, if there's anything wrong please correct me.
In Switzerland, every gun enthusiast expected to be a member of one local Schützenverein. While you get to meet some really crazy nuts there, these Schützenvereins are very much interested that there is a space for guns in Switzerland's culture, so they are very considerate about training of handling of weapons, maintenance and gun safety.
This creates an environment where it's save to be enthusiastic about gun while still being aware that these are weapons and not just and toy.
My instructor, in a deeply-conservative area of a deeply-conservative state state, was appalled at the idea of "open carry," and our instructional material warned against it as a bad idea. I wanted to look him up a few years ago when people were getting all bothered about Starbucks' firearms policy to see what he thought but he'd passed away a year before.
Go up to the firing line, turn around, and look for any bullet holes/marks.
I've found all but two ranges of 15 near me that pass this test.
Carrying a loaded rifle was illegal, but how would the public know one way or the other?
Back then, storing your army rifle at home was mandatory, and, while those rifles had automatic mode disabled by default, converting them back to automatic took 5 minutes and a screwdriver, with an official, documented, procedure.
Some of this has changed in the meantime. Rifles are not necessarily stored at home anymore, and it's been years since I've seen anybody but uniformed military or police carrying openly.
You're mandated to carry it without the trigger mechanism and without magazine. It's quite easy to spot the difference.
2. Most active military personnel store their guns at home. The sealed ammunition box doesn't exists anymore so most don't posses bullets at home. Nonetheless, it is not that hard to buy ammunition.
Your fellow Swiss user
In Switzerland, people are properly trained. My father showed me how to use guns (he was a border guard), went to a club and I did military service. It's not as easy as in the US to get a gun (i.e. without paper) but if you take the time and do the paper work, have a clean record you can get a gun without a problem.
While carrying around the government-issued rifle in public under certain conditions (IIRC it's only permitted when you're travelling to/from duty) is perfectly normal, I think what your parent comment was referring to was someone carrying a gun "to exercise their rights", as might be normal in America.
Or from/to Shootingplace, the law infact say, if you have todo something with you rifle/gun (let's say repair your private one) you have to got strait to that place and strait back home after repair (no coffee break allowed)
I’d actually argue that the regulation of machine guns, suppressors, and short barreled rifles has been extremely effective, as it’s extremely rare to hear about any of these items being used criminally.
For example, concealed carry holders in the USA (about 5% of adults) are much less likely than the general population to be involved in a crime of any kind, and much less likely to be involved in a shooting.
Fully automatic weapons in the US are certainly more widespread than in other countries, and there are even privately owned artillery pieces and grenade launchers; but these weapons are never used to kill anyone. Eliminating or regulating them further serves no public safety purpose at all.
This cuts both ways. I live in Switzerland and I find some conservative Swiss policies unabashedly insane in their xenophobia to a degree that the US Republican party wouldn't dare consider, by my estimation. Very loosely speaking, US conservativism seems to be skewed fiscally and religiously while Swiss conservatism is generally skewed socially.
There are a few towns in Switzerland that have actually banned asylum seekers (who are legally in Switzerland) access to public places such as public libraries or pools. 
 Swiss introduce apartheid-like restrictions: Local authorities ban asylum seekers from public places
Much of my childhood I also shared house with an actual (full auto, large caliber) assault rifle, but my dad was always very careful to point out that war was not cool.
In fact, from my childhood, the gun owning part of the family were simultaneously the mild mannered, book reading part of the family.
My Swiss friend in town told me as far as he knew Switzerland still people keep fully functional assault rifles at home but those who have them need to show up for three weeks of training each year and show up at a shooting range twice a year. (He left a few years ago so anyone actually living there now should feel free to correct this.)
My conclusion has always been that the gun violence problems in US is largely a culture problem.
I would strongly argue against this. Swiss gun law is very different from US, please read my five points above. Do you think US gun violence would decrease if they adopted those points? In my opinion yes.
In my opinion the conservatives, nationalists and the National Rifle Association fight against any tighter regulations that would probably save thousands of lives.
As to Oregon, consider this https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umpqua_Community_College_sho... in the context of easily available firearms.
The exceptions for the latter category being countries with high external national risk or no standing army.
Eye-balling this 2015 chart, there seems like there's a pretty good correlation between per capita ownership and per capita deaths (homicide+suicide):
The main outliers appear to be MA and HI, the former of which has some pretty strict rules (very similar to Canada's):
RAND did a (meta-)analysis and found that some policies are more effective than others, specifically: safe storage, waiting periods, background checks, domestic violence history restrictions:
Stand-your-ground laws seem to lead to not-good things happening (nothing about castle doctrine though).
Good laws / regulations can counter high numbers though, it appears. Canada has one of the highest per capita ownership rates, and yet has quite low firearm-related death rate (lower than Finland, the Swiss, France, Austria):
Injecting suicide rates into the discussion is a motte-and-bailey tactic. People make their legal case for regulation by invoking the right not to be murdered as outweighing the right go bear arms, but when confronted with the fact that gun control doesn’t appear to reduce homicides within the US, they shift the goalposts by citing numbers that lump in suicides. But the legal and moral justification for regulating guns to reduce suicides is very different than for homicides.
> Injecting suicide rates into the discussion is a motte-and-bailey tactic.
Or it's simply the fact that I don't want people dying unnecessarily, whether at their own hand or another's. Why should we only worry about homicides? What is your intent in removing suicide from the equation?
Unfortunately, with police departments being defunded or restricted, illegal gun ownership and use will only rise over time.
Also, I think I meant to write Baltimore instead of Boston, but I think the point stands regardless.
Well, yeah. Most non-murderers don't murder, too.
As someone else pointed out, you can still buy ammunition in Switzerland. There's plenty of access to guns. The difference is absolutely one of culture, which is what my point was.
You should probably add that most US gun owners are law-abiding gun owners.
Most people abide by the law until they don't:
And in a lot of jurisdictions in the US all you need to get a gun in the first place is a pulse, which isn't much of a filter in determining whether a person can actually safely handle one. I'd be curious to know the survey results of owners who could recite Jeff Cooper's Four Rules:
Personally I like the little mnemonic / acronym that is taught in Canada, A.C.T.S.:
1. Assume every firearm is loaded.
2. Control the muzzle direction at all times.
3. Trigger finger off trigger and out of trigger guard.
4. See that the firearm is unloaded [and P.R.O.V.E. it is safe].
If people followed these or the classic military rules gun accidents would almost be a thing of the past.
Not that I think that will happen:
if people could just stop
- drunk driving,
- driving while texting
that would probably save even more lives, but I don't see that happening either.
Your examples strengthen the point I was trying to make: The numbers on drunk driving over the decades, and auto safety in general, are an example of what government regulation with societal support can achieve. Perhaps some day firearm regulation and licensing will achieve the advances that the automobile has seen.
If only guns were licensed more like automobiles:
But remember: the US is what it is. There is an insane amount of guns floating around already.
My suggestion is the "Norwegian model" from now on and going forward: to get anything except a manually reloaded rifle or a (max 2 cartridge) shotgun you need a clean record with the police + (and here comes the interesting part:) you need a recommendation from a local shooting club. Oh, and before buying any hunting gun at all there's a mandatory 50 hours training.
I'd recommend trying something similar in the US: tell NRA "we want you to help us".
Parts of HN might hate NRA all they want but my understanding is a good chunk of the people in NRA would love to keep weapons out of the hands of crazy people as every criminal shooting hurts peaceful owners as well.
How would tight regulations like that look in a large country already flooded with weapons of all shapes and sizes?
I know multiple pro-gun people who seem to compose a large percentage of their pro-gun belief system around the foundation of the inability to remove them. Ie any bad guy who ever wants a gun will always have it (because there's so many), so give more guns to the good people.
What are your thoughts there? I don't really have a counter.
- Refuse sales of ammunition without proof of gun purchase and registration.
- Refuse gun purchase for specific gun types and if a person already has a certain number of guns.
- Mandate and enforce training before gun purchases, with obligatory re-training every X years. Checked at every purchase of ammo and guns. No training, no sale.
- Mandatory licensing for open carry. Mandatory army-level training for concealed carry. With mandatory re-training.
- Buyback and exchange plans for existing weapons.
- Huge fines (not jail time, fines) for non-compliance. Money is a much bigger deterrent than jail time.
One of the biggest problems is your last point - non-compliance isn’t really enforced. If you ask your friend to buy a gun for you because you’re not eligible, the dealer might stop the transaction, but there is a very low likelihood there will be any police follow up.
The ATF/DOJ loves to make examples out of people even when the case is pretty weak.
Then what? Do you think anyone would be willing to roll back something like this?
One comment regarding the term "Buyback", the government never owned them they can not "buy" them back. It is simply a euphemism for confiscation. Moreover, you can go to pretty much any gun shop or pawnshop to sell a gun you do not want.
I couldn't see it mentioned immediately on Wikipedia and it kind of falls outside of the scope of that article too so I'll mention that in addition to people directly preventing crime by pulling a gun IIRC there also seems to be less attempts at crime in areas were there are lots of legal guns.
I think rayiner hints at/mentions that somewhere above.
US gun violence probably would decrease if they adopted the swiss system, but good luck getting people who think a two-day hunting license course infringes their 2A rights to agree to a two-year process involving written, oral, and practical tests.
The NRA agrees that you shouldn’t be able to buy a guy if you have mental problems, drug problems, aren’t in the US legally, criminal history, etc.
The only one restriction that is strongly enforced is the criminal history because it’s easy to do a check. But the system for mental health checks is a patchwork across states.
And to layer on, if someone does violate these laws, there is often no punishment. Straw purchases are a good example - it usually falls on the dealer to stop the transaction, but there is rarely any police follow-up.
But I guess my point would be - if they actually followed up on all straw purchase attempts (even just a call from the ATF saying “yeah, that’s illegal, don’t do that”) you could at least say the law is being enforced.
Right now the most likely outcome is the dealer just refusing the sale. You’re free to tighten up your game and try another dealer.
Despair and poverty without a perspective breeds crime. Switzerland doesn't have much of that.
That's new law due to Schengen. If you had a gun before, you don't need to do this. Three weeks is probably the compulsory military service.
(fun fact: until the cavalry was disbanded, troopers would not only keep their rifles at home, but also their horse.)
I agree on culture. See https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23809211 , footnote 1.
Not entirely serious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgYJ5V2HYy4&t=222
(but then again, life should be sympa, gemütlich, simpatica, shouldn't it?)
It's taboo to discuss issues, in fact, so it's no wonder things only get worse. The people have so little power, it's really just theatre. Issues with 60%, 70%, or more public support routinely get ignored by the so called representatives. And as a culture we don't use the one tool we do have: discussion of issues. I suppose it fits in nicely with our tendency to have theoretical rights that only exist on paper. What good is the first amendment when there's nothing to discuss and no one willing to discuss things even if there was?
I’ll add that Americans are in a different stage of the same overall trend we’re seeing in the developed world. Even right-wing platforms in France or Germany have never needed to call for adherence to traditional French or German values, because it was taken for granted. 80% of Germany is still ethnic Germans. Another 10% are other kinds of Europeans. In the United States in the United States only 60% is of European ancestry, and even among those people you’ve got a mix of British, Germans, Italians, Irish, etc. European countries aren’t really multi-cultural the way America is, so there is no need even for right wing parties to make culture an issues. French being the national language of France has overwhelming acceptance (90%+). There was never a reason for right wing parties to even bring it up. But in America, making English the national language is a right-wing talking point, because Americans don’t take it for granted.
But taking culture for granted is something that is rapidly changing in Europe. Le Pen got 30% in the last French election. Now she’s polling at 45% in a head-to-head with Macron. The dominant CDU in Germany is bleeding members to AfD. The new leader of the CDU is significantly further right than Merkel: she opposes abortion and gay marriage, and declared the 2015 acceptance of refugees as “a mistake” that they’ve “learnt from and won’t repeat.”
The general political consensus position in Germany has shifted considerably to the left over the last 30 or so years. This has alienated some people and the AfD is the recepticle.
Much of the rethoric employed by the AfD could have been found in the CDU just 10 or so years ago, including appeals to German culture as you mentioned. "Leitkultur" was one famous topic of debate. Other classics include "Kinder statt Inder", and "Das boot ist voll".
I get that immigration is a hotly debated culture war topic, but I am not convinced by the argument that immigration is the thing that is causing the culture war.
For example, in the United States, "making English the official language" was a hot-button political issue for a long time (before even Republicans gave up on it). In France it wasn't, because nobody disagreed that French should be the official language (and it was). So if you read party platforms to gauge right-wing views, you might conclude that the French aren't right wing on this point, because party platforms don't mention it. But in reality, it's not mentioned because it's not something that's even up for debate.
> Now she’s polling at 45% in a head-to-head with Macron.
This is still a bullshit cherry-picked figure. The village baker would likely get 45% h2h too. Macron is deeply unpopular due to his "reforms".
> The new leader of the CDU is significantly further right than Merkel: she opposes abortion and gay marriage,
The one that got so unpopular that she's already announced her resignation earlier this year?
Macron and Le Pen are by far the two front-runners in a multi-way first round matchup: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/ac/Op.... If the election were held today, it would go to a head-to-head between those two.
> The one that got so unpopular that she's already announced her resignation earlier this year?
AKK's resignation was not due to her conservative views, but rather because CDU cooperated with AfD in Thungria to keep a left candidate from being elected, which is taboo within CDU. She was seen as being unable to maintain party discipline. The current front-runner appears to be Markus Söder, from CDU's even-more-conservative Bavarian sister party. Söder has taken hard-line immigration positions, ordered public buildings in Bavaria to display Christian crosses, and oh showed up to a party a few years ago dressed up like Ghandi in full brown face: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/markus-soede...
It's even on wikipedia, but still you make some definite conclusion.
> But AKK had to fend off an unexpectedly strong challenge from the ambitious Friedrich Merz, who is favoured by the CDU's most conservative wing.
> AKK initially sought to carve out her own profile in a party thirsty for change after years of Merkel's moderate course in a loveless coalition with the centre-left Social Democrats.
> She notably championed a tougher stance on asylum seekers and floated the idea of reintroducing compulsory military service. She also spoke out against gay marriage.
> AKK was badly weakened by a string of bruising election results, particularly in eastern Germany's former communist states, where the CDU bled support to the anti-immigrant AfD.
All that just reinforces my point about German politics becoming more right-wing: "The new leader of the CDU is significantly further right than Merkel: she opposes abortion and gay marriage, and declared the 2015 acceptance of refugees as 'a mistake' that they’ve 'learnt from and won’t repeat.'"
People aren't leaving CDU for SDP. They're going to AfD. AKK walked back Merkel's acceptance of refugees, but the leading contenders to replace AKK look like they'll be even more right-wing. So I'm not sure what you're disagreeing with me about?
That you're trying to spin a narrative where the US Republicans are not considerably more to the right than even the right-wing parties of Europe.
AKK was even considered to be on the economic left-wing of the CDU? Sure, she had socially conservatives idea based on religion which is a shame but even the CDU's "family centered politics" would be considered a Bernie Sanders welfare state by the US conservatives.
People aren't necessarily full blown reactionaries like the US Republican party just because they have cherry-picked conservative ideas.
Once a project is approved by popular vote (the Gotthard Base Tunnel being a good example, but not the only one) this means that funding is secured and can't be pulled, or siphoned off due to political changes.
It's not unfalable, certainly, but works for most large projects.
Once approved it's also accepted by the "losers" and not subject to political whims
One of the most important aspects of the Swiss system is that it's not that the majority vote steamrolls the minority, but that compromise is actively thought out.
For better or for worse. Because decisions can take a long time. Overall, though, it seems to work quite well.
Note: that's a bit of an idealistic view. But I'd wager that it's mostly correct
They say We because whoever they voted for (big parties) have representation in decision making. Seven members of council consist of the party representation of whoever one voted for.
Women in Switzerland did not have equal voting rights until 1990, when the last (small) canton finally made them equal. But it was only in 1971 when they first gained the right to vote at all.
A Canadian friend living in Switzerland told me that even though there aren't any legal limitations on women any more, the culture in still much more tilted towards "a woman's place is it home raising the kids" than in Canada or the US.
This is something that is commonly said here but I don’t have any data on whether people believe it or not. There are, however, some structural reasons why women may stay at home to raise kids:
1) Paternity leave is generally poor. There’s no statutory minimum and in many cases men only get one or two days off. There will be a referendum soon on a two week statutory minimum but it’s facing a lot of opposition from people concerned with strain on small businesses. By contrast, women get something like 16 weeks.
2) Childcare is extremely expensive. I’m sure the price varies but it’s not uncommon to hear of people spending 2500CHF (approx $2500) per month per kid for childcare. It may not make sense for some families to pay so much for childcare just so both parents can work, especially if more than one child needs care.
Wouldn't it make more sense to say that every couple can collectively take the previous duration of maternity leave? So, if it used to be 16 weeks, make that into a bucket that each parent can spend as they see fit. Each parent could take 8 weeks, or the man could take the entire 16 weeks with the woman returning to work immediately, etc.
Maybe there's other reasons why the length should be extended or what have you—I'm not familiar with the situation—but this is how you'd correct a sexist policy in a way that shouldn't make businesses any worse off.
Some companies may grant more, but that's voluntary.
Women had voting rights much earlier in the US (1920) and USSR (1922) but both those polities seem to have produced exclusively male leadership lists ever since.
 for instance, this year's president (foreground), playing a duet with the interior minister (background). YouTube is failing me at finding an equivalent Trump/Azar duet.
I don't bother bruising anyone else's egos by suggesting how it could complement or totally solve their jurisdiction's problem, I understand that it is a smaller geographic area 1/3rd the size of Pennsylvania with a population of 8 million.
My observation is that they are a multicultural society and their political concept can work across a much larger region, but my conclusion is that its right for me!
You can sort of opt-out by doing civilian service. This consist of general interest public work (mostly work in retirement homes, but also farmer's aide, museum guardianship, and in this time of pandemic, help doing COVID contact-tracing).
You can't opt out of society in any significant regard, and without being forcefully exposed to very distinct facets of society we close ourselves off to our own little bubbles.
On personal level one does not interact with society, but with other persons. Probably tens or at most hundreds. And one can opt-out of each of such personal interaction (and perhaps find a differend set of persons to interact on personal level). And that is one of the most important personal freedoms.
>Needless to say, Liberal Democrats torpedoed every attempt to replace the majority voting system by a proportional one. If the instrument of popular initiatives was not available, it would be a dead end. The voters would have to wait until Liberal Democrats lose some of their voter support. But even then, thanks to the majority system, an absolute majority in parliament could be won by another party, who would again find it difficult to abolish the system that brought it to power.
>General dissatisfaction with the state of affairs led to the launch of the popular initiative "For a proportional system of elections to the National Council" in 1918 which succeeded with 66.8% votes in favor.
>In 1919, elections were finally held using the new, proportional system and Liberal Democrats lost the absolute majority.
My theory is that the success of radical political change (peaceful or revolutionary) decreases with population size. The population of Switzerland was around 3 million in the late 1910s. The population of America was less than 3 million during the entirety of its revolutionary war.
Implementing popular and legislative referendums at the federal level of the United States is a pipe dream. The powers that be have too tight a grip to relax it any. What is feasible in America today, especially in the more progressive cities like New York, is for the local city council to modify the constitution of the city and cede some its power to the people through the referendum mechanism. This would be popular and politically feasible.
The legislative referenda are probably the single most important force that driving Switzerland away from the political polarization and towards the rule by consensus.
I do think this style should be adopted wider into other democracies.
They where thoroughly ridiculed; there is no place for an opposition party in Switzerland, since all the major parties are part of the Executive Directorate, where the seven seats of the directorate are apportioned vaguely proportional to voter share (although there's a log of haggling involved and you need to get the minor parties to agree to chip in, since the Directorate is confirmed by the Parliament).
I do also think that it would be helpful to adopt similar power-sharing directorates instead of presidential systems where one party dominates and the other parties try to sabotage everything they do. Switzerland's system involves a lot of bickering and can be slow sometimes, but I do think it better than the back-and-forth of presidential democracies.
I think for years I was sceptical of direct democracy elements due to really bad decisions having been made in referendums across the globe. But nowadays I feel like it might also have to do with the lack of frequence in referendums. I.e. the Brexit-referendum was the rare occasion of a referendum, thus a lot of other issues unloaded in that referendum. If more referendums on various policies had been conducted before, the Brexit referendum might have turned out differently due to a reduced overall frustration about participation in policy-decision making.
Counterexample might be the state of california with many direct-democratic elements and regular ballot votes on many issues. I don't see it generating a lot of cooperative behaviour among the elected officials in california.
The Brexit referendum is for me the worst possible example of how to do direct democracy; facultative with a vague question and once-in-a-lifetime. That's just not going to work. If a referendum is facultative, why even bother? If it is a vague question, what exactly voting are they for and if it is once-in-a-lifetime, how can you expect the people to actually vote on the issue at hand instead of just making a protest vote?
For a direct democracy to be working properly (and I don't propose that it's working properly in Switzerland!) you need to have an engaged populate that has built up a culture of participation, that know these referendums will have an impact and that their decision will not just be overruled by the political elite.
I don't know much about the political situation in the state of California. But honestly; the political system in the U.S.A to me seems just plain broken at this point in time.
An opposition party with enough support could force a referendum on every law. Giving them power prevents this tactic.
My wife and I also ask their opinions before formulating the family's votes.
I'm looking forward to future installments. I'm a naturalized citizen and I learned things from the writer!
I am truly appreciate for the time and effort it most have taken you and I am looking forward to your part II & III.
In a way, lack of corruption and high level political participation are what makes the referenda work, not the other way around.
An important part of the Swiss system is that the winner doesn't take all, but that compromise is actively thought.
Sure, if you're on the losing side you'll have to accept defeat.
But the referendums ensure that the majority can't just badger the losers anyway they like.
Case in point: About 10 years ago there was a quite massive shift to the right. After which the liberals and the popular party tried to implement a rather neo-liberal agenda.
Let's just say it didn't quite work out.
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and particularly in Alameda County. We received in the mail a government publication for each election. This includes statements for and against, and/or from each candidate.
Today I’m living in the greater NYC area, and particularly in Nassau Co. I’m not especially political, but I have worked for the Board of Elections at my local polling place (fair and free elections!) I frequent my public library. And there is nothing like this publication here.
It’s shocking how much work I have to do here to get any information on the issues and candidates which is not published in a newspaper I have to buy.
It is not THE HQ. Just one of them. NY is the first in precedence.
It looks like the referendum system has had a hugely positive effect, mostly because it's a real-time check on their representatives' power since citizens can directly change the law, forcing representatives to respect the interests of the population. In the U.S, our only recourse as citizens is to vote for one of the Democratic or Republican party candidates every 2-6 years (Senate elections are every 6 years), and being locked into a two-party system means the parties tend to gravitate towards the status quo. Ultimately referendums result in more power in the people, as well as a more politically active and educated citizenry as opposed to power being delegated to a relatively elite political class.
The following passage stood out to me:
> Back in 1917 Switzerland used to use majority system in the parliamentary elections. This led to a situation where the Liberal Democrats got only 40.8% of the vote, but 54.5% of the seats in parliament. The absolute majority allowed them to pass the laws, regardless of the will of the 59.2% who voted for other parties.
> Needless to say, Liberal Democrats torpedoed every attempt to replace the majority voting system by a proportional one. If the instrument of popular initiatives was not available, it would be a dead end. The voters would have to wait until Liberal Democrats lose some of their voter support. But even then, thanks to the majority system, an absolute majority in parliament could be won by another party, who would again find it difficult to abolish the system that brought it to power.
> General dissatisfaction with the state of affairs led to the launch of the popular initiative "For a proportional system of elections to the National Council" in 1918 which succeeded with 66.8% votes in favor.
This is a prime example of what would otherwise be a permanent government failure being rectified by the referendum system. Only the referendum system can fix a problem that persists because it is against the majority lawmakers' interests to fix it. It seems that voting rules in general should not be decided by lawmakers because they are incapable of voting against their own self-interest.
This is why despite all the complaints in the U.S. about the electoral college, winner-take all elections, gerrymandering, and being locked into a two-party system, nothing will every change since fixing the problem will always be against the interests of the majority party. Referendum seems to be the only solution here. Not that referendum guarantees change either, but it's much easier to vote against the party system as a citizen than as a party member who lives in and has benefited from the system. Expecting lawmakers to vote in the public good is like expecting CEOs to vote themselves a fair salary.
I was also impressed at the extent to which the public is educated on both sides of the referendum, with all sides having a chance at fair representation. Hard to imagine this kind of neutrality in the U.S. This is also made much easier by the fact that referendums must focus on a single matter, rather than conflating multiple unrelated issues (reducing military spending + increasing spending on social services).
It's amazing that past referendums included votes on universal basic income (2016) and full reserve banking (2018), both very forward thinking policies that haven't even been in the public debate in the U.S. except for basic income thanks to Andrew Yang's presidential run. Whereas the U.S. lags behind the world politically, unable to fix problems that Americans have been complaining about for decades like the skyrocketing cost of healthcare and university, countries like Switzerland have their act together and are pioneering forward into the future.
As an American, I'm completely in favor of tearing down our system and replacing it with something like the Swiss's. Direct democracy is the only true form of democracy, and representative democracy is like the halfway point between real democracy and monarchy. It's sad that representative democracy has been conflated with democracy, when it doesn't actually give the citizens the power to do anything other than vote for a new Democratic or Republican party representative every couple years. It's no wonder Americans are so dissatisfied and jaded with their government and rioting on the streets.
One of the biggest issues, I find, is that there is no constitutional oversight e.g. in form of a court. This not only leads to things like minarets being explicitly forbidden by the constitution (!) even though at the time of that initiative there were... 3 minarets in all of Switzerland. It also leads to a lot of issues when the government has to deal with contradictory requirements. The mass immigration initiative by the SVP was a great example: implementing it literally would have meant cancelling a lot of international contracts, which nobody really wanted. In the end, I think they reached some weird compromise solution (I had long left the country by then), but nobody can argue that that's the way the law was "intended" (and indeed, IIRC, the SVP tried to land another initiative that would have required the government to implement the first initiative literally... I'm not even sure what kind of legal sense that is supposed to make; thankfully, that initiative was rejected).
In that sense, it's not true that the constitution is "unambiguous". The government still has to draft specific laws according to new articles in the constitution and there's still much leeway there.
I also disagree that Switzerland is not polarised. It's true that the system itself, with a government involving all the major parties, acts as a stability mechanism, but the SVP has been trying to break that stability for years and years now, mounting attack after attack at the established consensus by using the kind of right-wing populism that has now become popular in other parts of the world as well. One particularly pernicious instance was when they were trying to hold the political system hostage in 2007, because the parliament didn't re-elect one of the SVP government members (Christoph Blocher). Blocher was thought to be intolerable by many, so they elected another SVP member, Evelyn Widmer-Schlumpf, instead. However, the SVP simply proclaimed that they wouldn't accept this and that if Schlumpf were to accept the vote, she would be expelled from her own party. It turned out that it was impossible for the SVP to just expel Schlumpf, though, so they had to expel the whole cantonal section that she belonged to, which I just find insane. Schlumpf went on to be a quite respected government member, but the SVP wouldn't stop whining for years about how the government wasn't representing the political parties anymore, even though they had created that situation completely on their own. In the end, Schlumpf abdicated after some years and they elected another SVP member that was slightly more tolerable.
Finally, we also have to look at voting participation, which is very low in Switzerland. I believe this comes partially from the fact that it's just too exhausting to have to keep up with dozens of referenda and initiatives each year, especially when they overwhelmingly get rejected. I do think that the numbers of signatures needed to start an initiative or referendum should be increased; I think it's currently at 100k which in this day and age means that everyone and their dog can make the people vote about something totally insane.
Judging from the kinds of examples you give (fear of expressing one's own opinion etc.), I'm thinking that you might be talking about a level of polarisation that I mostly associate with the US currently. That's certainly not what is going on in Switzerland, but it's also not what is going on in many other parts of the world, so I don't think "not as bad as the US" is a sufficient criterion for "not polarised".
But the SVP does consistently put up posters such as this one: https://img.nzz.ch/2019/8/19/a8db938f-4e3a-4eb4-9eec-31102df... ("should we allow liberals and 'nice people' to destroy Switzerland?")
Or this one: https://www.sozialarchiv.ch/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/04_So... ("This is what liberals want")
Or: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/proxy/1lgJnhTI6CNiyT7h_-8D... ("free-for-all? no")
All of these examples (and many, many more, going back over decades) attempt to paint the political opposition as subhuman and as selling out the country to "bad people", and don't forget: this is the most powerful party in Switzerland (though, to be fair, in Switzerland with its multi-party system that doesn't mean more than 25-30%).
There are also numerous examples of the SVP using the same sort of language and imagery when referring to immigrants, muslims, etc., but while equally repulsive, I'll grant you that it's not an example of polarisation necessarily.
By contrast, I now live in Germany, and before the rise of the far-right AfD party just a couple of years ago, this sort of rhetoric and imagery would have been completely unimaginable. Even now, the AfD is politically isolated and its politics, language and imagery are reviled pretty much across the political spectrum, whereas in Switzerland, the SVP has succeeded in "normalising" this sort of political discourse over decades.
Please keep in mind that many countries / cultures, even Western ones, have a naming tradition different from "first given name / second given name / single family name".
The UE relations are a particular sore spot, which they keep dancing around, but no one wants to address directly.
In this scenario, the number of guns carried by criminals would stay the same. And the amount of people murdered by guns will be the same. You know why? Because stop and frisk is racist. According to everyone, stopping people for 2 minutes to check them for guns is abhorrent, racist and evil. So criminals will always have guns in this country. There is no reason to pass laws one way or another.
Some say that stop and frisk is unconstitutional. I think I agree with this. So it follows that it is embedded in the constitution that criminals will be carrying around pistols. There is no changing this. I think that the only reasonable response is to allow ordinary people who are not criminals, not obviously insane and etc to carry pistols. It’s written in the constitution that we are allowed to do something like that. So if liberals want to be constitutionalists about stop and frisk, then conservatives have the right to be constitutionalists about carrying guns. If criminals are allowed to carry guns in practice then it is only reasonable to let their victims carry guns too.
Of course, this only works when you don’t hand out 10+ year prison sentences for property crime in the first place.
The beginning might be turbulent, but that should cha.ge after a few years
America really needs an education system overhaul, teachers are often paid close to fast food restaurant staff levels of wages.