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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #290 - Point of view, The RIC, seen by a Swiss libertarian communist (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

Date Tue, 8 Jan 2019 09:07:16 +0200

Since some of the yellow vests are passionate about the citizens' initiative referendum (RIC), there has been a lot of reference to the Swiss example. Some precisions and reflections. ---- Because the RIC is the workhorse of Étienne Chouard, a notorious confusionist, many revolutionaries tend to see this slogan as a " Trojan horse " of the extreme right. And take Switzerland as an example, where the nationalist right has for twenty years seized the referendum tool to be at the center of public debate. ---- That inspires me two reactions. First: be careful not to give the impression that the libertarians demonize the referendum, it would be incomprehensible to the general public. Then: the RIC as proposed by many yellow vests is much more democratic than the Swiss mechanisms. It would allow 500 000 petitioners (1 % of the electorate, against 1.5 to 2 % in Switzerland) to launch a referendum to: 1. dismiss elected persons ; 2. propose a law ; 3. repeal a law ; 4. amend the Constitution. Only possibilities 1 and 2 exist in Switzerland at the national level. The 3 and 4 exist only in some cantons, a level where the democratic mechanisms are older and more extensive than at the national level.

In theory, the RIC would be a power granted to citizens. In reality, the Swiss example shows that at the national level it is above all a power given to associations, unions and political parties that have the means to use the referendum tool. What must be kept in mind is that Switzerland is marked by the absence of national unions and the almost non-existence of the radical left.

The situation would be very different in France. For example, with the surface they have, unions like the CGT, Solidaires, FO, etc. could alone call a referendum against any law passed in the National Assembly, on the rise of the Smic or the reduction of working time.

Extension of popular rights
Admittedly, in a referendum, even people not concerned by the question can vote, which distorts the result. But the wage is numerically so massive that it rather benefits the trade union movement. It has an adherent base that would allow it to easily collect signatures, very expensive process without it. In Switzerland, for example, the collection of 100,000 signatures is usually entrusted to specialized companies at a cost of nearly 400,000 euros. The National Rally, Upright France or the various identity groups would hardly be able.

I say all this to bring things back to their proper proportions. For, for the rest, any sensible anticapitalist knows that there is a radical incompatibility between capitalism and direct democracy, since by definition this system places an essential aspect of social life - the economy - out of democracy, in the name of the law of the market and private property.

However, being revolutionaries fighting for the abolition of wage labor does not prevent defending the rise of the Smic. Likewise, that fighting for a truly democratic society, free from capitalism, should not prevent us from claiming an extension of popular rights, even within the framework of bourgeois democracy. Economic demands are not to be opposed to democratic demands, we can bring both at the same time.

Guillaume (North-East Paris)

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