Some say it’s akin to allowing a tabloid newspaper dictate the legislative agenda. Others that it’s true democracy at work. Whatever it is, Switzerland’s use of referenda produces quirky results at times. And it’s now given birth to a seemingly radical vote to let investors veto executive pay proposals and vet appointments to companies’ boards.
The direct democracy system lets voters have a popular vote – and the results have to be heeded by lawmakers. It means issues that would not get on to the public agenda elsewhere can get vigorously debated in Switzerland. With offbeat, even controversial results – three years ago the Swiss voted to ban the building of new minarets on mosques.