"Do not, I beg you, be troubled by forces already dissolved. You have mistaken the hour of the night. It is already morning." (Hilaire Belloc)
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
A hopeful sign: the Men of Switzerland are saying "No"
Last Wednesday, the Swiss National Council voted to withdraw the country’s dormant application to join the European Union (EU). A clear majority of Swiss voters are not interested in joining the EU. And no democratically sanctioned application was ever submitted. However, it has been “in the drawer” for some time.
Recently, the motion to withdraw that unwelcome piece of paper was finally submitted by the Swiss
Peoples’ Party (SVP). SVP won a majority in the parliamentary elections held last October. 116 out of 200 MPs supported this motion. It is also worth noting that last year, Iceland withdrew its application to join the EU.
Not many people know or remember that back in 1992, the Swiss Federal Council held a secret meeting where 4 out of 7 members approved to officially apply to join the EU. In what I consider a cloak-and-dagger operation, the members of the Federal Council approved the membership application without informing either their political parties or the people of Switzerland. This isolated act, which was considered an act of treason by a large number of Swiss citizens, has finally and officially been eliminated this week. Some politicians argue that the motion to repeal the application was ‘unnecessary’ to begin with because the Swiss people made it very clear in the past that joining the EU was not an option. Nevertheless, it is fair to say that this motion to dismiss the application officially constitutes a symbolic act.
Over the past few years, we have witnessed a noticeable shift in the Swiss political sentiment regarding the EU. The Swiss public has repeatedly refused anything that could compromise Swiss sovereignty and independent decision-making. It refuses to adhere to another entity’s rules, the EU included. On several occasions, the Swiss people voted against the recommendation of the Federal Council. Right-wing, pro-freedom parties like the SVP are gaining more and more ground in this regard. The Swiss citizens understand that the long legacy of Swiss independence and neutrality could be at jeopardy should it fall under the EU’s umbrella.
The SVP message is clear: the more centralization and the more federal government influence, the more the confederate system of Switzerland will be dismantled and infringements on personal freedoms will increase. What this stance underlines is the deep-rooted understanding that the people of Switzerland remain the ultimate sovereign and not their elected government representatives and professional bureaucrats. Politicians should serve one purpose only, and that is to serve the people, not to rule them.