Monday, October 24, 2005

A new take on extremism

With reference to a recent Swiss referendum on whether to provide ten new EU members with the same "free movement" as the existing fifteen members, Crikey reporter Charles Richardson writes:
Countries that trust their voters to make decisions find that they get it right most of the time; extremism flourishes where that trust is absent.
Richardson's claim is that the majority made the "right" decision on this because the Swiss government demonstrated trust in their decision-making ability, unlike France and Netherlands on the same issue (and hence those countries rebelled by making a "wrong" decision to reject the proposed EU constitution earlier this year).

I wonder if this is an accurate assumption - that a good decision results from empowering or "trusting" votes to this degree. Given my lack of Euro-politics-savvy I couldn't say, but I'd be very cynical that this assumption could work at the global level (even though I really want to believe it would be the case).

Global citizen opinion would be highly fragmented in some parts and very polarised in others, and it might be a farce to try and make decisions of global interest in this manner! Isn't it something to do with a relatively homogenous majority culture/value-set that enables Switzerland exist relatively harmoniously in equilibrium with those 26 highly-independent cantons? The very fact that Switzerland enjoys this rare kind of regional governance possibly contributes to 60% (the percentage of yesses to the referrendum in question) being able to their ability to make a "right" decision.

However, the real topic here is extremism and on this matter, Richardson may be right that global referrenda would dampen down extremism around the globe. Your thoughts?

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