Switzerland to Hold Referendum on Covid-19 Lockdown

James Hookway at the Wall Street Journal: “Switzerland’s system of direct democracy will be put to the test again later this year, this time with a referendum on whether to roll back the government’s powers to impose lockdowns and other measures to slow the Covid-19 pandemic.

The landlocked Alpine nation of 8.5 million people is unusual in providing its people a say on important policy moves by offering referendums if enough people sign a petition for a vote. Last year, Swiss voted on increasing the stock of low-cost housing, tax allowances for children and hunting wolves.

The idea is to provide citizens a check on the power of the federal government, and it is a throwback to the fiercely independent patchwork of cantons, or districts, that were meshed in the medieval period.

Now, the country is set for a referendum on whether to remove the government’s legal authority to order lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions after campaigners submitted a petition of some 86,000 signatures this week—higher than the 50,000 required—triggering a nationwide vote to repeal last year’s Covid-19 Act….(More)”.