Switzerland, the EU, and the Swiss Constitution: Which Way Forward?

Posted by on Apr 6, 2016 in 8152blog.ch, Switzerland | No Comments

22:10 (UTC±00:00 +DST), 06 APR 2016 | GBR HARROW, GREATER LONDON

Switching Gears

These are never easy elements to mix and match after the highly contested vote of 09 February 2014. Seen as a disaster by some — and a last-minute save for the Swiss homeland by others — the vote saw “just” 50.3% vote in favour of immigration quotas for all, including EU and EEA nationals.

The average gearstick in a car — and as in which gear you select — will decide how fast your motorised monster will go — or in which way, rather. It is close to suicidal to suddenly yank it into reverse — especially if your car is in a higher gear. Not only do you risk ruining your car’s hardware, you yourself are at risk as well!

Switzerland has just less than a year to see if it can come to an agreement, of sorts, with Brussels — on the thorny issue of freedom of movement for EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens. Much of this depends right now on how the UK will vote on the contentious issue of Brexit. And yet, a new people’s initiative, RASA, proposes an immediate yank into reverse for the Swiss constitution’s Article 121a, which is the point of contention — by scrubbing it out of the constitution itself. It would be no less than be a Swiss version of the US Constitution’s article on Prohibition, to be struck out. It’s really no different to yanking the stick from 5th to reverse, just as Bern blindly finds a way to realise Article 121a.

Switzerland can afford to make a few “oops”es, so to speak, but constantly fiddling around isn’t what makes the country the safe and stable homeland I’ve come to love it for. Even in non-direct democracies, they can shift gears. Mao Zedong’s political excesses were quickly undone by Deng Xiaoping, who chartered China into reform & opening-up territory.

But the future of ties with the EU has to be finalised sooner than later — and this might very well come in the form of a second vote on the matter. Which gear Switzerland will then choose with regards to its dealings with Berlaymont will be most interesting to watch. The 6 million eligible to vote will each select their option for what gear Switzerland will engage with Brussels. There will be a lot of screeching and some hurt elements — emotions, campaigns, even the odd billboard by those who viciously disagree with this or the other political party. In the end, though, whatever comes out, it would have been something the people gave their consent to in the first place.

I trust a fair number of our own people will make a choice they won’t regret any time soon — regardless of which way it might lean…