Monday, November 1, 2010

Who needs a leader?


Times of financial, political or military crisis usually call for a strong leader. In recent centuries, chiefs of the tribe made way for kings, who made way for presidents and prime ministers (not everywhere), but today we still need leaders, who we give all necessary powers to make decisions on our behalf. And this is not only the case of governments: any group of people, including a company or a sports club, has a leader. But delegating political tasks to our democratically elected representatives (today, representative democracy is one of the most common forms of government) does not necessarily involve having leaders.
Doing without leaders may seem utopian or too radical, but nothing further from the truth. The Swiss Government is a good example of a world without leaders. For more than 150 years, Switzerland features a different system of government: leadership is collegial instead of a presidential system, that is, the government is a seven-member executive council. Every year, one of them becomes the President to represent the country, but the post confers no special powers or privileges. Decisions are taken by all the seven members of the Federal Council and most laws are approved, ratified or contested by means of popular referendum --there are four or five referendums annually. It is not perfect, but it is the closest system to a direct democracy among the examples of government around us.
It goes without saying that we still have a long way ahead to think and act by ourselves, but that’s a good beginning.

Sources:
  1. Representative democracy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representative_democracy
  2. Politics of Switzerland: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Switzerland
  3. The Federal Council of Switzerland: http://www.swissworld.org/en/politics/government_and_parliament/the_federal_council/
  4. Direct democracy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_democracy
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