A NATURAL AND LIVING ENVIRONMENT LIKE NO OTHER
SWISS POLITICAL SYSTEM
LEGITIMACY AND STABILITY – THE MAGIC FORMULA
In 2018, Switzerland will have two presidents from the canton of Fribourg: Dominique de Buman (photo), aged 62, who is the new President of the National Council (lower house), and Alain Berset (aged 46), who takes over the one-year rotating Presidency of the Swiss Confederation.
“Switzerland’s political system has three main distinguishing features: semi-direct democracy, federalism and ironclad stability.” Dominique de Buman, who has been elected President of the National Council for 2018, stresses the importance of citizen participation in political affairs, “The fact that the people are called on to express their opinion during referendums and to elect their political leaders bolsters the legitimacy of our institutions”, explains the Fribourg parliamentarian. As for referendum and initiative rights, which allow the electorate to voice its disagreement with parliament or to put draft legislation to the vote, “they ensure public and transparent debate.”
For the Christian Democrat, the stability of the Swiss political system “is primarily down to two factors: proportional representation, which means that the winning candidates adequately reflect voters’ preferences, and a high degree of public satisfaction. It stands to reason,therefore, that when you are content with how things are, you don’t feel the need to cause a political tsunami.” According to de Buman, this high level of contentment is due to “the remarkable balance that exists between social justice and favourable economic conditions”. One of the positive outcomes of this political stability is that “leaders are actively and heavily involved in priority policy areas (e.g. education) on which the prosperity of our country depends.”
The Fribourg politician also extols the virtues of federalism “as a means of catering to the aspirations of as many taxpaying citizens as possible.” It is a known fact that “political leanings vary from one region to the next, particularly when they do not share the same language.” Thanks to decentralisation and the subsidiarity principle, which is designed to ensure that decisions are made efficiently and as close as possible to the citizen, “each region can prioritise those points they consider crucial. This leads us back to the idea of legitimacy and satisfaction, and therefore finishing off where we had started!”