A Letter From Switzerland: Where the People Have the Veto

How Giving Voters the Power to Cancel Laws Changes Lawmaking for the Better

What are the obstacles and opportunities facing democracy today? Zócalo is publishing a series of letters to highlight how the world’s democratic ideals are faring in practice. From Switzerland: Political economist Stephan Kyburz shares how the “people’s veto” and the inclusive consultation process that it has inspired make for potent citizen-led politics.

Switzerland’s direct democracy is powerful and well-known. But there are two pieces of it that I think are too obscure: the referendum, or “people’s veto,” and the inclusive consultation process that it has inspired over time.

Here, on the national and local …

Why Taiwan Would Be Better Off Neutral

A Citizen of Switzerland and Sweden Argues That a Stance of Non-Aggression Can Protect Small, Vulnerable Democracies

How can Taiwan best defend its democracy from the explicit threats of mainland China—and the security machinations of great powers in the Pacific?

Neutrality might be the answer.

I was born and …

How I Knifed The Swiss Army

Twenty-Five Years Ago, Young Swiss Activists Used a Ballot Initiative to Try to End My Country’s Military. They Won, Because They Knew How to Lose.

Some people in my home country of Switzerland keep trying to weaken the Swiss Army, which is famous worldwide for its neutrality and knives. The latest attempt—a national ballot initiative …