Tuesday, 6 July 2010

They Cope in Switzerland

Much talk at the moment about the three votes that are to take place in Wales next year – the referendum on full powers for the National Assembly, the Assembly elections, and a referendum on the ‘Alternative Vote’ system for Westminster elections.

Already people are highlighting the potential cost and voter fatigue. These are relevant matters no doubt and have to be balanced against the possibility of having some of the votes on the same day, i.e. the ‘Alternative Vote’ referendum and the Assembly elections.

I thought I would have a look at how they cope in Switzerland. Typically Switzerland, which practices direct democracy where citizens can challenge laws, has votes generally four times a year. They had four votes last year for example. These votes would include both referenda and elections, and the votes take place at the weekend, typically finishing at noon on the Sunday.
They cope there though admittedly turn out is generally below 50% unless there is something truly controversial.

Meanwhile discussion here will be had amongst Party Leaders and with the Secretary of State for Wales on how Wales approaches these votes.

The most likely scenario is the powers referendum in early March, and a vote on the issue of ‘AV’ and the Assembly elections both on 7 May 2011.

Clearly there is a cost to having these votes but then democracy doesn’t come cheap. All of the alternatives to democracy, and let’s face it there really is only one, look pretty unattractive to me.

No doubt we will cope.

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