Radical Decentralization of Government – How it Works for Others

Radical Decentralization of Government – How it Works for Others

Can you name the President of Switzerland? Probably not, but this is because Switzerland does not regard the executive as an exalted position. Instead, the executive is seen as a servant of the people’s wishes.

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Can you name the President of Switzerland? Probably not, but this is because Switzerland does not regard the executive as an exalted position. Instead, the executive is seen as a servant of the people’s wishes.

switzerland.jpg

 

Since 1848 (the year before the first California Constitution was adopted), Switzerland has had a highly decentralized federal constitution. The Swiss equivalent of our state senate is the Council of States – two deputies from each canton. The equivalent of California’s Assembly is the National Council, made up of deputies elected every three years in the proportion of one for every 20,000 citizens or fraction over 10,000 from each canton. Our Neighborhood Legislature proposal for California is for one assembly seat per 5,000 citizens, and one senate seat per 10,000 citizens.

There is no popularly elected President. The Federal Council consists of 7 members chosen by the Federal Assembly, and the chairman of the Council holds the title of President of the Swiss Confederation for a one year term, with the position rotating among the members of the Federal Council.

All Federal Laws must be submitted to a popular vote on the demand of 30,000 citizens or of eight cantons. The cantons also have legislatures, and these must submit all laws and proposed changes in laws to the people of the canton for their approval.

Switzerland is a successful country that has provided a social, legal and political framework that has enabled the creation and maintenance of economic success and a high standard of living both for, and by its citizens. Radical decentralization has been a big contributor to this success.

The Neighborhood Legislature proposal adopts many of the features of the Swiss decentralization. We propose one statewide elected assembly seat per 5,000 citizens, and one senate seat per 10,000 citizens. The elected representatives will select a working committee of 120 members to make laws in Sacramento, equivalent to the Swiss Federal Council. All new laws will be submitted to the full Neighborhood Legislature for approval, and the individual representatives can seek the input of people in their constituency to guide their vote. The state referendum system will also remain in place for new ballot propositions.

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  • commented 2015-05-23 14:21:24 -0700
    Would the governor position remain unchanged? I really think someone at some level should be looking at the bigger picture. Will the Governorship remain unchanged? “Radical decentralization” does not sound like something that would always lead to just outcomes, especially in the United States—where “local control” is code for fighting state and federal efforts around de-segregation and the equal distribution of resources.