Sunday, April 16, 2017

Switzerland




It is normal in South Africa to talk of democracy starting in 1994. Switzerland is famous for its federal democracy, which balances the need for central government, and local power on local issues. It has 26 cantons, with Bern the seat of the federal authorities. It has one of the world's oldest constitutions, and requires a referendum on changes. It also makes provision for the constitution to be rewritten to prevent the various additions missing context. Although there were local wars between Catholic and Protestant cantons, eventually they worked together to manage areas of common interest, and ensure peace. Despite seeming an 'advert for democracy', Switzerland was the last western republic to grant woman the right to vote (1971/1991). Looking back, I also struggle with the ideas of American 'Founding Fathers' as leaders of democracy given the gaping holes. History is far more messy than we would like. The growth of cooperation hasn't been a straight line. Sometimes we need to stop, pause, listen and rewrite with our new context. 

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