Democracy Index of Switzerland
The present research examines the question of the democracy index of Switzerland. Moreover, its investigation is obligatory as recent literature on the subject connects the level of democracy of a particular country to its level of development and innovation. However, the latter is a concept usually ignored in the establishment of relevant policies and action strategies. Thus, the present paper debates the question that the democracy index of a country such as Switzerland places it among the countries having the highest level of “full democracy.
Recent literature on the subject connects the level of democracy of a particular country to its level of development and innovation. As stated by Coppedge (2005) the enormous potential of one country in innovation and development might lead to an excessive reduction in poverty in case the country is considered to be democratic. However, the most important fact deserving to be mentioned here is that the democracy index is different in any country and that is the reason why it deserves attention (Fukuyama, 2011). Additionally, before determining the real extent of research we need to explain what a research is. As shown by Hoey (2011) any type of scientific study from its creative conception to the mere completion of the scientific work is made strictly individually. Notwithstanding that fact there exist shared methodological approaches.
For example, everything in one scientific research is significant and important and every new scientific fact must be obtained from an explanation in the modern science (Fukuyama, 2004). Instead of that, most of the ideas are created in practice and at their core lies the real facts and events. What is more, the development of ideas is often interconnected with problems occurring during the research process (Coppedge, 2005).
In the scientific research planned in the present essay the index of democracy of Switzerland for 2015 is aimed to be investigated; namely, four categories of democracy are being differentiated: full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regimes and authoritarian regimes.
According to Diamond (2011), the number of countries exhibiting full democracy is relatively low – only 20 percent of the countries on a global scale are considered to have an index of full democracy. On the contrary, flawed democracies are situated mostly in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Asia and their number equals 59 countries. Similar is the number of the authoritarian regimes, while hybrid regimes are only 37 states (Diamond, 2011).
The hypothesis, an intrinsic part of my research, lies in the fact that I will try to achieve the same result as in the EU Index of 2015 and will conform to the opinion that Switzerland is a full economy country (Diamond, 2011).
However, in contrast with the abovementioned empirical studies focusing on the impact of democracy index on the regional and total households inequalities, the present paper attempts to provide empirical data on the index of democracy of Switzerland. It is organized in the following manner; section I is the introductory part, section II accentuates on the research question and shows the general characteristics of the country. In Section III the method of study is described, while Section IV discusses the findings. In the concluding Section V are presented the conclusion and relevant recommendations.
General characteristics of Switzerland
The country Switzerland is an inland confederation, situated in the central part of Europe. Its neighboring countries are Germany to the north, France to the west, Italy to the south, Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. The capital of the country is Stockholm (MySwitzerland.com, 2018).
The country is famous for the tendency to keep its neutrality; determinative for its index of democracy is the fact that a majority of international organizations are located in the country. Its population is around 7.459 million people (2015), and its average density – about 181 g. / km2 (MySwitzerland, 2018). Additionally, the country represents a federation of almost autonomous cantons, having a history of more than 700 years (MySwitzerland.com, 2018).
Several major European cultures have influenced the language and culture of the country; in its territory four official languages are presented – German (64%) in the northern and central parts, French (19%) to the west, Italian (8%) and Romanish in the south. The most widespread religion is Roman Catholicism with followers of 43% of the population, 35% Protestants. Also, the immigrant Muslims are around 4%, Orthodox 2%. The other part of the population has a belonging to a minority religious groups, or has no belonging at all (MySwitzerland.com, 2018).
Talking about democracy and democracy index the fact that Switzerland is a federal parliamentary republic, with each canton having its own government must be noted. What is more, the legislative power of the country consists of Federal Assembly with two equal in power branches – National Council of 200 deputies, elected every four years and the Board of Cantons. The country consists of 26 cantons, 20 of which are “full cantons” and 6 “semi-cantons”. Among the cantons ‘powers are the education and justice sector (MySwitzerland.com, 2018).
Economy of Switzerland
The economy of the country is hugely developed, making it one of the richest countries in the world. Several sectors are at its peak such as banks, chocolate, dairy products such as cheese and watches of exceptional quality. Tourism is also flourishing in the country (MySwitzerland.com, 2018).
However, the country is not an EU member, keeping a policy of neutrality and at the same time of stable trade connections with Europe.
A methodology of the research
The data for our research was extracted from questionnaires. As stated at the beginning of the present research a study was carried out in 2015. The present survey will be a combination of a dichotomous and a three-point scoring system of 60 indicators.
Categorization of democracy-related questions
The present paper examines the question of the democracy index of Switzerland. However, the process of investigating it requires identification of the type of political activities, carried out in the country. In regard to areas such as political participation, political culture, and civil liberties, the figures are 7.78, 9.38 and 9.41, respectively (EIU, 2015). Thus, according to it the overall score of Switzerland is 9.09, placing it at a sixth place among the world’s full democracies.
For the first group of questions, regarding the electoral process and pluralism, based on our knowledge we have the following:
1. Are the elections for national legislature and head of government freely conducted?
1: Essentially unrestricted conditions for the presentation of candidates (for example, no bans on major parties).
2. Are elections for the national legislature and head of government fair?
1: No major irregularities in the voting process.
3. Are municipal elections both free and fair?
0.5: Are free, but not fair.
4. Is there universal suffrage for all adults?
5. Can citizens cast their vote free of significant threats to their security from state or non-state bodies?
6. Do laws provide for broadly equal campaigning opportunities?
0.5: Formally, yes, but, in practice, opportunities are limited for some candidates.
7. Is the process of financing political parties transparent and generally accepted?
8. Following elections, are the constitutional mechanisms for the orderly transfer of power from one government to another clear, established and accepted?
0.5: Two of the three criteria are met.
9. Are citizens free to form political parties that are independent of the government?
0.5: There are some restrictions.
10. Do opposition parties have a realistic prospect of achieving government?
11. Is potential access to the public office open to all citizens?
0.5: Formally unrestricted, but, in practice, restricted for some groups, or for citizens from some parts of the country.
12. Are citizens allowed to form political and civic organizations, free of state interference and surveillance?
0.5: Officially free, but subject to some unofficial restrictions or interference.
On the second group of questions, regarding the functioning of the government the situation is the following:
1. Do freely elected representatives to determine government policy?
2. Is the legislature the supreme political body, with a clear supremacy over other branches of government?
3. Is there an effective system of checks and balances on the exercise of government authority?
0.5: Yes, but there are some serious flaws.
4. Government is free of undue influence by the military or the security services.
5. Foreign powers and organizations do not determine important government functions or policies.
6. Do special economic, religious or other powerful domestic groups exercise significant political power, parallel to democratic institutions?
0.5: Exercise some meaningful influence.
7. Are sufficient mechanisms and institutions in place for ensuring government accountability to the electorate in between elections?
8. Does the government’s authority extend over the full territory of the country?
9. Is the functioning of government open and transparent, with sufficient public access to information?
10. How pervasive is corruption?
1: Corruption is not a major problem.
11. Is the civil service willing to and capable of implementing government policy?
0.5. Yes, but serious flaws exist.
The third section of questions, regarding the political participation, has the following outcomes.
1. Voter participation/turn-out for national elections.
0.5 of 50%-70%.
2. Do ethnic, religious and other minorities have a reasonable degree of autonomy and voice in the political process?
3. Women in parliament.
0.5 of 10-20%.
4. The extent of political participation. Membership of political parties and political non-governmental organizations.
Score 0.5 of 4-7%.
5. Citizens’ engagement with politics.
6. The preparedness of population to take part in lawful demonstrations
7. Adult literacy.
1 of over 90%.
8. The extent to which the adult population shows an interest in and follows politics in the news.
9. The authorities make a serious effort to promote political participation.
The fourth group of questions regards the democratic political culture. Here, we have the following situation, as in the case of Switzerland.
1. Is there a sufficient degree of societal consensus and cohesion to underpin a stable, functioning democracy?
2. Perceptions of leadership; a proportion of the population that desires a strong leader who bypasses parliament and elections.
3. Perceptions of military rule; a proportion of the population that would prefer military rule.
4. Perceptions of rule by experts or technocratic government; a proportion of the population that would prefer rule by experts or technocrats.
5. Perception of democracy and public order; a proportion of the population that believes that democracies are not good at maintaining public order.
6. Is there freedom of expression and protest (bar only generally accepted restrictions, such as banning advocacy of violence)?
7. Is media coverage robust? Is there open and free discussion of public issues, with a reasonable diversity of opinions?
0.5: There is formal freedom, but a high degree of conformity of opinion, including through self-censorship or discouragement of minority or marginal views.
8. Are there political restrictions on access to the Internet?
9. There is a strong tradition of the separation of Church and State.
The fifth group concerning the civil liberties includes the following topics.
1. Are there a free electronic media?
2. Is there a free print media?
3. Are citizens free to form professional organizations and trade unions?
4. Do institutions provide citizens with the opportunity to petition the government to redress grievances?
5. The use of torture by the state.
1: Torture is not used.
6. The degree to which the judiciary is independent of government influence. Consider the views of international legal and judicial watchdogs. Have the courts ever issued an important judgment against the government or a senior government official?
7. The degree of religious tolerance and freedom of religious expression. Are all religions permitted to operate freely, or are some restricted? Is the right to worship permitted both publicly and privately? Do some religious groups feel intimidated by others, even if the law requires equality and protection?
8. The degree to which citizens are treated equally under the law. Consider whether favored groups or individuals are spared prosecution under the law.
9. Do citizens enjoy basic security?
10. The extent to which private property rights are protected and private business is free from undue government influence.
11. The extent to which citizens enjoy personal freedoms. Consider gender equality, the right to travel, choice of work and study.
12. Popular perceptions on the protection of human rights; a proportion of the population that think that basic human rights are well-protected.
13. There is no significant discrimination on the basis of people’s race, color or religious beliefs.
14. The extent to which the government invokes new risks and threats as an excuse for curbing civil liberties.
The present study covered 60 questions in total. The respondents were young people in the age group of 26-45. From the first section of the questionnaire we achieved 7 points that divided to the number of questions, gives us the ratio of 0.58.
Section two, concerning the functioning of the government of Switzerland, gives us 9 points that divided to the number of questions, namely 11, makes a ratio of 0.81. Section three related to the political participation gives us 7.5 points that divided to the number of questions 9, gives a ratio of 0.83.
The fourth and fifth sections give ratios of 0.89 and 0.96, respectively.
From all of the above mentioned the overall score of all sections is 0.814 * 100% = 8.14, so in accordance with the EIU index, Switzerland is a country having a democracy index of “full democracy”.
Summary and conclusions
The democracy is what provides peace and order in today’s world (Coppedge, 2005). Being a country on the top list of democratic indexes Switzerland as a country is fully capable to provide its citizens with the ability to earn high revenues, via the small and medium-sized enterprises, benefiting at this way a great part of the lower income groups. Besides that, the result established in the present paper differs in some extent to the result of EIU 2015 due most probably to gaps in knowledge on the electoral process in Switzerland.
On the contrary, the results signify that even without a significant effort on part of the government to encourage the democratic process in the country its democracy level is intact. Hence, new possibilities will be opened up not only working for the country but also improving the income inequality in its society.