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Old 08.02.2011, 21:37
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What is the difference: direct/liberal democracy?

Okay, after the military weapon debate thread some of the politics here is confusing me. Maybe some of you can enlighten me.
1. What is the difference between a direct democracy and a liberal democracy?
2. What is the difference from a Swiss point of view...if that is different to above?
3. What is Switzerland, a direct of liberal democracy? (It is actually listed under both in Wikipedia...sigh).
One or two quick notes before this kicks off. I have read what I think they are but am asking because I would like to know what other people's views, opinions and arguments are. I am not necessarily asking for value judgements of either system or either system over one and the other but of course, all input is valued.

Thanks.
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Old 08.02.2011, 22:46
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Re: What is the difference: direct/liberal democracy?

I don't think either of those two kinds of democracy exist anywhere in its pure form.

A liberal democracy primarily is a representative democracy, although, depending on the constitution or the like, there may be a direct component in it, which means, in certain instances, the persons entitled to vote may have the last word.

In a direct democracy, most (ideally all) of the decisions are made by the people, not by their representatives.

The Swiss system is a mixture. On all levels (municipality, canton, federation) there either are direct (= people's) votes in many law-making processes, or the law-makers have to face the axe of a referendum launched by those elements of the people (not of the representatives) that do not agree with them.

In Switzerland, another important element of direct democracy is the People's Initiative (Volksinitiative), as the one concerning arms currently being discussed. 100,000 persons entitled to vote can force the federal parliament to deal with their request to amend the constitution, and the entirety of the voting population has the last word. Similar systems at a smaller scale exist on the lower levels.

There are equivalents of the Volksinitiative in other nations too, for instance in Germany or in Austria, where it is called Volksbegehren, however, in Germany it does not work on national level, and in Austria a valid Volksbegehren must be discussed by the parliament, but it need not lead to a vote.

This is a bit off the cuff, written without looking stuff up all over the place. Please do not crucify me in case I messed something up.
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Old 09.02.2011, 14:30
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Re: What is the difference: direct/liberal democracy?

Very simply put:

The pairing "liberal democracy" vs. "direct democracy" does not make sense, it should be either:

"Liberal democracy" vs. "popular democracy"

or

"Direct democracy" vs. "representative democracy"

Historically, the term "liberal democracy" was used to distinguish western, "capitalistic" democracies from eastern (European and Asian) "communistic" "popular democracies", where the former is a more "pluralistic" form of democracy with the focus on aggregating different points of view and the latter is a more "unifying" form of democracy with the focus on getting the people behind a common cause.

The distinction between these two is mainly political.

A direct democracy is a democracy where the people themselves constitute the legislative body, unlike in a representative democracy where the power to legislate is given to a body of elected representatives.

So the distinction between these two is procedural.

In Switzerland, the overwhelming majority of legislative decisions are made the representative way, with some quite strong direct mechanisms.

Thus, Switzerland is a semi-direct (or semi-representative) liberal democracy.


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Old 09.02.2011, 16:55
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Re: What is the difference: direct/liberal democracy?

Quote:
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I don't think either of those two kinds of democracy exist anywhere in its pure form.

A liberal democracy primarily is a representative democracy, although, depending on the constitution or the like, there may be a direct component in it, which means, in certain instances, the persons entitled to vote may have the last word.

In a direct democracy, most (ideally all) of the decisions are made by the people, not by their representatives.

The Swiss system is a mixture. On all levels (municipality, canton, federation) there either are direct (= people's) votes in many law-making processes, or the law-makers have to face the axe of a referendum launched by those elements of the people (not of the representatives) that do not agree with them.

In Switzerland, another important element of direct democracy is the People's Initiative (Volksinitiative), as the one concerning arms currently being discussed. 100,000 persons entitled to vote can force the federal parliament to deal with their request to amend the constitution, and the entirety of the voting population has the last word. Similar systems at a smaller scale exist on the lower levels.

There are equivalents of the Volksinitiative in other nations too, for instance in Germany or in Austria, where it is called Volksbegehren, however, in Germany it does not work on national level, and in Austria a valid Volksbegehren must be discussed by the parliament, but it need not lead to a vote.

This is a bit off the cuff, written without looking stuff up all over the place. Please do not crucify me in case I messed something up.
If I remember correctly only two states in Germany have das Volksbegehren, Bavaria and Saxony and the Volksbegehren is only used in inernal state matters, to start a Volksbegehren you must first collect 50.000 votes for the matter to be put forward, then it can be voted upon in a Volksbegehren.
As I said, if I remember correctly.
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