Only one country in the world–Switzerland–is a direct democracy, in which, to an extent, the people pass their own laws, judge the constitutionality of statutes, and even have written, in effect, their own constitution. In this propitious volume, Gregory Fossedal reports on the politics and social fabric of what James Bryce has called "the nation that has taken the democratic idea to its furthest extent." The lessons Fossedal presents, at a time of dissatisfaction with the role of money and privileged elites in many Western democracies, are at once timely and urgent. In Direct Democracy in Switzerland, Fossedal has developed a shrewd, sensitive overview of Switzerland’s high notion of statecraft. He details the reasons for studying Switzerland’s distinctive institutions, and explores the origins and development of the ancient Swiss democracy, which reaches back a thousand years. He shows how Switzerland handles the political questions common to all modern societies, such as education, taxes, crime, welfare, the Holocaust. He concludes with the ongoing debate over two very different visions of democracy, direct versus representative. Paolo Dardenelli in Regional and Federal Studies described the book in its cloth edition as offering "many valuable insights into Swiss political life and written in a light, refreshing journalistic style." Amity Shales of the Financial Times commented that "Fossedal shines a brilliant spotlight on a form of governance…with lessons for the rest of us. His review of the referendum process there is required reading for lawmakers, political consultants and voters."
Fossedal, G. (2002). Direct democracy in Switzerland. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 0765800780
Some excerpts from this book are available online.
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