Gleichheit für alle (engl.)

And the Swiss are not the only ones. Most democracies hold referendums at some time or another, but some hold far more than others. Recently Italy, Australia, Canada, France, Denmark and Ireland have held referendums, and over half of the states of the United States hold them on a regular basis as a way of making decisions on local issues.

Q OK, this all sounds very fine, but surely the politicians know better than we do, what's right for the country?

A That's what they'll tell you of course, but ask yourself: If the politicians are so good at knowing what's best for the country, then why is it that the two parties are always going at each others throats, each insisting that the other one in government is totally incompetent? The reality is that we the voters would be just as good at making the decisions as they are, if not better. Remember that the Swiss are now the richest country per head of population in Europe. They don't seem to have done too badly with Direct Democracy.

Q But it's different here. We don't have a tradition of using referendums.

A No, but then we didn't have a tradition of votes for women either before we gave women the vote. Tradition must never be an excuse to avoid change. Today, we are better educated than ever before, more inclined to argue with our politicians and much more aware, via the media, of what's going on in the world. We have grown up, and it's time to start making decisions for ourselves.

Q All right, but what about all those pressure groups - big business and the like? Wouldn't they use money to influence the outcome of referendums?

A There are about 220 million voters in the U.S. So there is no way that pressure groups can influence that many people.

Q OK, so what can I do to help?

A Lots of things! Today we have only partial democracy. Internationally, Direct Democracy is the way of the future, but because our government institutions are so deeply entrenched, it will only happen here in the near future if we make it. Direct Democracy itself is about each of us playing our part. So with or without the politicians' agreement, let's get to work. You can find more information on Direct Democracy under the following links: