Swiss Constitutional Initiative on Popular Ratification of Treaties

There will be a live debate tonight on Radio Télévision Suisse (formerly TSR) concerning a constitutional amendment that will be voted on by the people this coming 17 June, requiring a popular vote to approve international treaties.

The amendment would require a majority of the people and the cantons to approve any international treaty that:

1. Results in a multilateral unification of laws in important domains. [read in the notion of a “super-national” structure such as the EU, of which Switzerland is not a member, but is bound to by various “bilateral accords”]

2. Obliges Switzerland to accept future legal rules in important domains. [The current US-CH taxation treaty is an example, although I think it cannot supersede the Constitution as it is not fully self-executing (no definition of what a US or a former US citizen is) and its passage was unconstitutional as the Swiss Confederation must protect the rights of the people(Art 2, CFS).]

3. Delegates legal jurisdiction to foreign or international institutions in important domains.

4. Results in costs of more than 1 billion francs or recurring costs of more than 100 million [I suppose they mean per year].
Swiss Francophone TV: Infrarouge Debate 15 Mai 2012

I am in favor of this amendment, as it would protect us from parliament and federal council members who kneel in front of the US and accept treaties that violate our own constitutional and legal principles.

Here is a link to the short version of the debates: Accords avec l’étranger: la parole au peuple, version courte

As before, there is a page for Internet-based debate on the issues. Please would any of you at IBS who speak French make some comments.


8 thoughts on “Swiss Constitutional Initiative on Popular Ratification of Treaties

  1. I just posted this comment to Infrarouge, pending moderation:

    J’accepte cette initiative. Les citoyens ont déjà leur mot à dire sur les changements de la Constitution, donc ils doivent avoir leur mot à dire sur les traités internationaux. Il ne faut pas oublier que les traités internationaux peuvent supprimer ou limiter nos droits prévus dans la Constitution ou les protections prévus dans nos lois, dans la mesure qu’un traité donné soit « auto-exécutant » [« Self-Executing »].

    Le peuple suisse n’élit pas encore le Conseil Fédéral. Nous ne pouvons pas laisser notre gouvernement négocier des traités contre la volonté du peuple et nos principes. Par exemple : depuis quelques années déjà, le Conseil Fédéral et le Parlement cèdent de plus en plus de notre autonomie et souveraineté aux USA par rapport au secret bancaire et la double taxation des gens résident en Suisse (y compris certains Suisses !).

    Les électeurs et électrices suisses doivent absolument exercer le pouvoir de bloquer les traités qui leur semblent inacceptables.

    Pour ceux parmi vous qui comprennent l’anglais, voici un exemple : Pour une traduction approximative :

  2. @Jeff, When representative democracy stop functioning, then why not give direct democracy a chance. But alas, there is no perfect system. Perhaps in this instance, it is good thing as you suggest in your comment–I wonder whether the cooperation of UBS (stand for, Used to Be Safe), for example, with United States authority was not a violation of Switzerland’s laws, and your government’s bending over backwards to accommodate the IRS is really the loss of sovereignty and autonomy. Now, they want to make it a part of law, without consulting the people? No wonder the Swiss want treaties to be subject to referendum.

  3. I hope the Swiss succeed. What are the Americans going to do if a future US Swiss Tax Treaty gets the thumbs down by the Swiss people. Is Washington going to start treating Switzerland like Iran and have trade embargos or cut off its access to SWIFT? I can’t see Europe standing for that. They would have to intervene on behalf of the Swiss and apply pressure on Washington.

  4. Talking about debated, I think today is the IRS hearing about FACTA. If someone hears something about it, please post!

  5. @Petros The US representative democracy does not function properly, I think that there are plenty here that would agree with me. The Swiss system will collapse if we do not use our direct democracy to defeat that which would undermine our direct democracy. The first step is the present initiative to require popular vote on treaties. The second step (if the first does not work) is grounded in the Swiss constitution and I cannot discuss the implications in public at this time.

  6. Ce n’est pas trop tard, je pense que les Suisses et Suissesses vont se reveiller et bloquer les efforts des USA, efforts qui mettent en danger les valeurs des deux constitutions.

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