Direct Democracy and Environmental Policy

(zoon politicon) Direct democracy is fascinating, even intriguing. More and more foreign
delegations who are interested in popular rights and their possibilities
visit Switzerland these days in order to get better informed.


This week, a delegation of Greenpeace international came to Switzerland from
all corners of the world in order to talk about the impact of direct
democracy on environmental policy.

Claude Longchamp, head of gfs.berne, and Bianca Rousselot, formerly project
manager at gfs.berne and now doctoral student under Prof. Adrian Vatter at
the University of Zurich, were invited to plan an information day for the
environmental activists. Discussing direct democracy and environmental
policy from a political-science perspective, they talked about

… the Swiss polity, i.e. the cultural and structural conditions for

… Swiss politics, i.e. the decision-making processes in a direct

… and Swiss environmental policy and the influence of direct democracy on

What was different about the day was that – upon special request of
Greenpeace – the whole event took place on board a ship cruising on Lake
Lucerne, as well as on the famous “Rütli”-meadow, the legendary heart of
Switzerland. This was the perfect location for thinking about the
differences between the traditional and revolutionary understanding of
democracy, which led to the creation of the system of direct democracy we
have in Switzerland today.

For a summary of the presentations, click here (in english).

For the report on the day, click here (in german).