Saturday, February 7, 2009

Why and How the Swiss Constitutional System is so Laudable?

B Ramachandra CST Voltaire
The Swiss political system has been so nicely designed that it does not give any scope for any political leader to have any frustration or political deprivation. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Again, Power corrupts, lack of power corrodes. The Swiss people have well understood the truth embedded in the aforesaid two normative values. That is why the Swiss people are fairly represented and justly governed. This is again because Switzerland is not a Monarchy, but a Republic; not a Unitary State but a Federal Union; not a Theocratic State but a Secular one. The total population of Switzerland is about 7.6 million. Even then it is a solid Federation of 26 Cantons. There is no concentration of power at any level with any particular political functionary. The Swiss Constitution does not provide any office of the President on the model of the US or any office of the Prime Minister on the model of Great Britain-the two worst Monocracies in the present day world. Each of them has been based on the unfair Ist-Past-the-Post system of election. There is no official or non-official Opposition in Switzerland. There is no such office as the Leader of Opposition in that country. The Swiss representatives-elected on the List system of election- are seated in the Legislature not according to their respective party labels but according to the Cantons- (Provincial units)which they represent. Party lines or party rivalries are kept to the minimum. Pandemonium or disorderly behaviour or attempt at playing- to- the -gallery gimmicks, as we very often see in the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha ,State Legislative Assemblies in India is absolutely absent in Switzerland.
Besides, Initiative and Referendum- the two instruments of Direct Democracy- make the Swiss System all the more laudable. That was why Victor Hugo (1802-1885), the pro-European French Humanist and human rights Activist had remarked: “Switzerland is the future of the world”. But the saddest of things is this. The Swiss Political System, though it guarantees the highest degree of politico-electoral justice, has not yet been copied by any other country in the world. A political leader who is very much keen to have the decisive power with him or her can never opt for the Swiss system of pluralistic governance. Precisely for this reason and for the reason that the ordinary voters and the intellectuals are not that much democratically conscious to demand fundamental changes in their respective Constitutional Systems, Switzerland has, therefore ,remained the only democratic country in the world.
Switzerland is small in size but great in importance. It is a multi-lingual and multi -religious country. It does not suffer from any linguistic or communal clashes. It has ensured such a standard of life that there is no poverty of any kind there. Two of its cities, Zurich and Geneva, have been respectively ranked as having the 1st and the 2nd quality of life in the World.
All intellectuals having genuine love for real democracy and democratic values should come forward and campaign for immediate introduction of proportional representation and collective pluralistic government in each and every nation, be it the USA, the UK, India, Pakistan or Sri Lanka. Had there been Swiss form of democratic government right from the beginning there would have been no partition of India. All leaders belonging to all ideological political formations –Leftists, Centrists and Rightists- would have been fairly represented in the Legislature and all the important leaders of all the leading parties would have been honourably accommodated in the Federal Cabinet on the basis of equality and human dignity. No leader then would have entertained any fear of being subjected to the dictates of a Prime Minister or a President.
The Swiss Executive is never subjected to anything called a Vote of Confidence or a Vote of No Confidence. The Swiss system is not tainted like the Indian one with the 3.5 crore JMM pay-off case or cash-for-vote incident that happened on 22nd July 2008 on the floor of Lok Sabha in the context of Prime Minister’s Vote of Confidence motion. In addition, the term of political office in Switzerland is fixed for four years. There is no provision for any by-election there. No scope for defection, no scope for horse-trading as it was done by the BJP in Karnataka in 2008. MLAs of other Parties were asked to defect to the BJP and then they were made Ministers. The unethical MLAs resigned their MLA seats. By-elections were held at the expence of the State. The clever voters have elected the Ministers who fought the By-elections on the BJP ticket. This sort of dirty politics goes on under India’s British model of Parliamentary Democracy.
With the abolition of the Cabinet form of Government, with the exit of the office of the President, politics of black-mailing, leg-pulling, criminalization of politics etc. would disappear and there would be no Hindutva terrorist attacks on the Malegaon Muslims or the Kandhamal variety of attacks on the Christian minorities. Nor there would be any such attack by the SIMI or ULFA variety of terrorists. In the same way Israel and Hamas, the LTTE of the Sri Lankan Tamils and the Sri Lankan government would all live in honour and peace if the above named rights are codified in each and every Constitution of the world.
Philosopher J.S. Mill was in full support of Proportional Representation
By Switzerising the Indian Politico-Electoral System we would be practically honouring the Politico-Electoral Ideas of John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), the Great British Philosopher of Utilitarian Humanism. After the French Humanist Voltaire (1694-1778), it was J.S. Mill – the author of the Books : On Liberty (1859), Considerations on Representative Government (1861) and Subjection of Women (1869) – who emerged on the socio-political horizon as the greatest champion of Freedom of Speech and Expression. Additionally, Mill became the greatest exponent of women enfranchisement and proportional representation. He campaigned for concretisation of his ideas. Time has come for the entire humankind to give justice to the reformist ideas of J.S. Mill. That way we can ensure high level of socio-politico-electoral-economic justice to one and all.
What should be done in India:
The Constitution of India has to be partly retained and partly redrawn. The provisions contained under the Preamble, under Part III (Fundamental Rights), under Part IV (Directive Principles of State Policy) and under part IVA (Fundamental Duties) are by and large very good. Therefore, these provisions must be substantially retained. But the form of Government, the nature of the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary as provided under Part V (The Union: The Executive, the Parliament, the Supreme Court) and under Part VI (The States) viz. Articles numbering from 52 to 237 should be taken out and new provisions should be inserted in such a manner so as to ‘Switzerise” the Indian Politico -Electoral system- and the same should be carried out both in letter and spirit.
The Gains that would accrue because of Switzerisation
Dereservation of the Policy of Reservation
1- The vote-bank politics based on caste reservation, the nuisance value of religion in politics – all such dirty sectarian things would go away with lock stock barrel in consequence of Switzerisation. Love Marriage,propelled by Prayerless English Medium Quality Co-eduction,would reduce hereditary professionalism or caste occupation to zero. As a matter of fact, caste and creed would cease to be the determinants of political behaviour and, thereby, the policy of reservation would be dereserved and the dirty reservation politics would be assigned to the dustbin of history. There would be no Mayawatis, Mulayam Singh Yadavs, Lalu Yadavs, Ram Vilash Paswans, Prakash Singh Badals and S. Ramdosas in Indian Politics. The whole Part XVI on “Special Provisions relating to certain classes” – such as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, Anglo-Indians – starting from Arts 330–342 would be taken out of the Indian Constitution. There would be perfect equality and human dignity among all the Indians.
2- The character of Indian Democray would be much much better on Account of Wholesale Switzerisation
i) The Indian democracy does not have good image. When H.D. Devagowda, as a Prime Minister, was having his minority Unite Front Government three things were quite visible. The BJP that was having the highest number of seats in the Lok Sabha was sitting in the Oppostion. The Congress that was having the next highest number of seats was the supporting party of the Devagowda Ministry. Mr Ramakanta Khalapa of a Goan Party was just having two MPs in the Lok Sabha. He was the Law Minister of India. He was the government with two MPs.
ii) Because the Opposition is not there to oppose and expose, it is there to vitiate and disrupt and paralyse the House so as to make it disfunctional. No wonder, on 22.12.2008, the Lok Sabha passed 8 Bills within 17 minutes without debate. This could happen because of the notoriety of the Parliamentary Democracy borrowed from Great Britain. The Leader of Oppostion in India has become virtually the Leader of Disruption.

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